FAQs on RTI for blind and low vision people
1. What is RTI?
Right to Information (RTI) is the right of every citizen to know the details of government, funds, functions, and functionaries. RTI empowers every citizen of our country to question our public servants in terms of what they are doing, for whom, with whom, where, how, etc. This is called Right to Information. Parliament of India passed the RTI Act in 2005 to establish the process so that public can question the government.
2. What information can an individual get using RTI?
Any citizen of this country can get information from the government and government supported agencies on reports, rulings, notifications, papers, files, documents, and the like.
3. What are the basic provisions of RTI?
Individuals desiring to get information from any ministry or department/agency need to:
a. Identify the issue of concern:
b. Write an application under section 6.1 asking for information:
c. Submit the application to the relevant public information officer (PIO) of the relevant department along with Rs.10 either by cash, money order or treasury challan and get an acknowledgement.
d. The department is bound under the act to give information within 30 days of filing the application.
e. If information is not received within 30 days – or the information received is unsatisfactory then one can file an application with the first appellate.
f. Officers who don’t respond within the stipulated 30 days can be fined Rs.250 per day. Further, their personal service records can be affected by the same.
g. With the exception of about 18 government bodies, every branch, department, ministry, and public sector enterprise, including the armed forces, is bound by the law to respond to requests for information by citizens.
h. A separate information commission for enforcement of the law at both state and central level has been set up which is the second and final appellate.
i. Low cost of information and exemption of fees for below the poverty line (BPL) citizens.
4. What is suo moto disclosure?
Section 4.1(B) of the RTI act clearly specifies that all government and government supported ministries/departments should disclose information voluntarily for the benefit of the public. Citizens should ask for this information – some examples include – schemes of the department, provisions, functioning, salaries of individuals, and so on.
5. Can a visually impaired person apply through RTI in Braille?
There is a provision under section 6.1 under application where the P.I.O. needs to assist the person who cannot write. Under this clause the visually impaired person can take assistance. RTI applications can be typed in print or hand written.
6. What are the common issues a visually impaired and blind person will use RTI for?
Getting a Disability Certificate
Getting ticket using a railway concession certificate.
Opening a bank account.
Sending free literature for the blind under the Indian postal service.
Getting concession in MTNL or BSNL telephone connection.
Getting seat in educational instructions / schools and university.
Access to employment.
Getting an allocation in Poverty Alleviation Schemes like NREGA (National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) IYA (Indira Avaz Yojana).
Ensuring barrier free access in Public spaces and offices
Getting Assistive Devices
Accessing land records.
7. How can one locate the P.I.O.?
To locate the P.I.O., the applicant can check the web or call the ministry for information. If unsuccessful, he/she can just hand over the application to the reception/receiving clerk/tappal section to get an acknowledgement or otherwise send the same by registered post acknowledgement due (RPAD). At the end of the day, persistence pays off, as it is imperative that the administrator in question responds within the stipulated time of 30days. Sec 6(3) of the RTI Act 2005 states that if the officer receiving the RTI application is not the correct PIO for the matter on which information is being asked the officer is duty bound under the law to transfer the application to the correct PIO and take five days extra for the same and intimate the concerned applicant. In the case of issues with disability if you do not know the correct PIO please send your application to the Public Information Officer, Office of the chief secretary of your state.
If on response, the applicant finds any discrepancy in what is stated on paper and the actual situation, he/she can escalate the case to senior officers or the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) or the Lok Ayukta or even file a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) with the court. A complaint can be lodged under section 18 to the State or Central Information Commission who will subsequently issue summons to the concerned PIO/ HOD.
8. Can you list some examples of P.I.O.?
Every office has a P.I.O. but in case you are not able to locate the same, you can send your application to the PIO c/o Head of the department
Office of District Health Officer/ Disability Development and Rehabilitation Officer
DDA/ HUDCO/ Ministry of Urban Affairs/ Housing
Zillah /Gram Panchayat/ District Commissioner
The Public Works Department/DTC/ Delhi University
Railways/ Airports Authority of India
The Education Department
Office of the Chief Secretary
PIO: Department of social welfare/Justice/ Department of disabled and senior citizens.
9. Can you give some examples of the questions to ask?
In the case of an application pending for disability pension:
What is the daily progress of the application?
For how many days the application is with the official?
What has he/she done on the application?
If he/she has not done anything is it dereliction of duty?
If it is dereliction of duty by what time departmental enquiry will be conducted?
What date the work will be completed?
Please provide me with the details regarding application received for allotment of land/sites/houses by the PWD in the year(s)------
Please provide me the details of percentage of reservation ear marked for the PWD for all the allotment Schemes in the state in terms of sq.feet area and number of plots.
Please provide me the details as to how many of the applications received were approved and how many land/site/houses were allotted under the quota reserved for PWD
Please provide me the names and the copy of applications of all the applications received by PWD under all the allotment Schemes.
Please provide me the names and allotment details including details about the land/site/house allotted to Disabled applicants.
In case few applications were rejected, the details of those applications and the reason for not approving those applications.
In case the reserved quota was not availed by the PWD what was done with the remaining land/site/houses.
Please provide me the reason for not allotting to me the land/site/houses under -----------Scheme
For BPL application
What is the daily progress on my BPL application?
Who is the officer responsible for processing my BPL application?
When will I receive my BPL card?
How many families have been allotted BPL cards in the panchayat?
Please provide me with the BPL list of the panchayat?
What is the daily progress on my application for a job card?
Who is the officer responsible for processing my job card?
What are the provisions for disabled people under the NREGA operational guidelines?
When will my job card be processed?
For train concession
What is the progress on my application for availing a railway concession?
What are the provisions for visually impaired/completely blind persons under the Indian railways?
Why have I not received a concession with my train concession certificate?
Who is the officer responsible for withholding my application from being processed?
What is the action taken on the officer responsible for withholding my application for the train concession?
For postal department
What is the provision under the postal service for sending blind literature?
Why is my post containing Braille and audio materials for blind been refused by the official?
What is the action taken on the official?
10. What further action can I take if I get a unsatisfactory response even after filing RTI application?
You will file an appeal to the first appellate authority and from the 31st day of filing the appeal you are bound to receive Rs.250 as compensation for each day until you receive a response. In the case where you are still not satisfied with this response you can file a second appeal which is usually with the State Information Commission.
11. What can be classified as unsatisfactory response?
If the response you receive is not in lines with the scheme or provisions there off which you are applying for : example let us say you are applying for a NREGA job card and you have not got it you have subsequently filed a RTI application asking for reasons. The response you have received is that you are not entitled for the job due to your disability!!! You have to check with the provisions of the act which clearly mentions that all rural adults are entitled for the scheme also the operational guidelines mentions special provisions for disabled people, further there is 3% reservation in all poverty alleviation for disabled people according to the persons with disabilities act 1995. Based on this you will file an appeal to the first appellate authority.
12. If I have not received justice even after filing application and going to the state information commission where can I seek justice?
You can direct to the chief information commissioner or the chief disability commissioner in Delhi.
The address of information commission in Delhi is
Chief Information Commissioner
Central Information Commission
Vth Floor, Old JNU Campus
The address of disability commissioner in Delhi is
Dr. Manoj Kumar
Sarojini House, 6 Bhagwan Dass Road, New Delhi 110001
Phone No: 91-011 - 23386154, 23386054, 23384762
13. What can I do with the information gathered?
1. On the basis information you have received you can file a complaint with the State Commissioner for People with Disability.
2. File a PIL (Public Interest Litigation) in court asking the court to take cognizance for the gross negligence of the concerned department and the concerned officers on this issue
3. File a complaint (physically or by Registered post) with the Under Secretary for State Department of Social Welfare/ for Disabled people and senior citizens stating clearly the details of the discrepancy detected please attach copies of the documents that you have received from the filing of your RTI application and stating the reality that exists.
This information has been compiled by Praveen Kumar G.