Right to Information Act, 2005


The Right to Information Act, 2005, (RTI Act) was enacted on June 15, 2005 and was thereafter amended in 2011. Three sets of rules and regulations have been formulated for the RTI Act – in 2006, 2012 and 2017.

The Act aims to promote the transparency and accountability of public authorities. It does so by giving citizens the right to access information held by those authorities.

The RTI Act has two primary methods of promoting transparency. One, citizens can request specific information through an application. And two, public authorities are required to suo moto (on their own) disclose information about their working and decision-making. 


  1. Who can file an RTI?

    Section 3 of the RTI Act states that all Indian citizens have the right to apply to a public authority to access certain types of information held by it, subject to the limitations imposed by the Act.
  2. What is a public authority?

    Section 2(h) states that a “public authority” is any authority, body or institution of self-government established by the Constitution, by a law passed by the parliament or state legislature, or by an order of the government. It also includes non-governmental organisations substantially financed, directly or indirectly, by the central or a state government.
  3. What kinds of information must public authorities provide?

    Section 4 makes it incumbent on such authorities to provide information to the public on their own and at regular intervals. They must catalogue and digitise records; publish information about their functions, duties, decision-making, remuneration of officials, periodic updates and so on; publish relevant facts while formulating policy or announcing decisions that impact the public; and provide reasons for administrative or quasi-judicial decisions to the people affected by them.
  4. What kind of information can I ask for?

    As per section 2(f), “information” is any material in any form, including reports, documents, memos, emails, opinions, (pieces of) advice, press releases, circulars, orders, logbooks, contracts, papers, samples, models, data in electronic form, and information related to a private body that can be accessed by a public authority under any relevant law.

  5. What does “right to information” mean?

    Section 2(j) defines “the right to information” as the right to access information held by a public authority. It includes the right to inspect work, documents and records; make notes or certified copies of documents or records; take certified samples of material; and obtain information in electronic form or through printouts.
  6. Do I need a reason to file an RTI?

    The person requesting information from a public authority is not required to provide any reason for doing so. As per section 6(2), the applicant is merely required to provide sufficient details that allow the authority to respond.
  7. How can I file an RTI?

    Section 6(1) states that an application can be handwritten or in electronic form in English, Hindi or the official language of the area.
  8. Do I need to pay an application fee?

    As per the rules of the Act, an application must be accompanied by a fee – Rs. 10 for the central government or its agencies; for the states, the fee varies. The Act exempts applicants below the poverty line from paying this fee.
  9. Who processes RTI applications?

    The Act mandates the designation of information officers in all state and central offices, who are required to deal with and adjudicate requests for information from the public.
  10. What if I am denied information?

    Section 7 states that if a citizen is denied certain information, if he/she feels it is being omitted, or if the officials do not respond within the time period stipulated by the Act, the applicant can file an appeal before the appropriate authorities.
  11. What if my RTI application is rejected?

    If an RTI application is rejected, the applicant must be informed of the reasons for rejection, of the time limit for filing an appeal, as well as the details of the appellate authority before which this decision can be challenged.
  12. What kind of information can I not get?

    Sections 8 and 9 of the Act enumerate what cannot be disclosed, including information that affects India’s sovereignty, that has been prohibited from publication by a court, that causes a breach of privilege of the parliament or state legislatures, that would endanger someone’s life or physical safety, and information that is personal and not related to public interest.
  13. Will my RTI application be rejected if I ask for this information?

    Section 10 clearly states that in case an RTI application requests information proscribed by Sections 8 and 9, the public information officer is required to provide information that is not prohibited under the Act. The entire application cannot be rejected outright.
  14. Is anyone exempt from the RTI Act?

    Section 24 permits the government to exempt 25 organisations from the purview of the Act, including law enforcement, security and intelligence organisations. However, even they must provide information when it comes to instances of corruption or human rights violations.
  15. Can I get information from a third party?

    In case information implicating a third party is requested, section 11 mandates that the public authority inform the third party of the kind of information that is asked for. The party may provide reasons to the authority for non-disclosure either orally or in writing. However, disclosure is allowed if public interest outweighs harm or injury to the concerned party.

    Focus and Factoids by Rishab Bailey. 


Ministry of Law and Justice, Government of India


Ministry of Law and Justice, Government of India


15 Jun, 2005