Right to Information – Master key to good governance

RTI and Inspection

Posted by rtiact2005 on August 15, 2006

Dear Mr.Sharma,

I meticulously went through your question regarding right to inspection under RTI Act. You are quite right in your apprehension that if one applies for inspection and is allowed to inspect after a lapse of several days, then the inspection may not reveal the ground reality, since the concerned authorities might pre-arrange what they want to show to the inspecting citzen.

However, from the formulation of the problem itself by you, it appears, you think as if RTIA provides only one, single mode of accessing information i.e. by way of submitting a written application under Section 6(1) and waiting for a maximum of 30 days to receive the reply under Section 7(1).

But the Act provides two different modes of accessing information [right to information includes above all the right to inspect ‘work’, as have correctly quoted Section 2(j)]. One is the application mode under Section 6(1). The other is the mode of accessing suo motu information under Section 4(4), for which no application is necessary.  The suo motu information, by its very nature should be made availble to the members of public by the public authorities in as many ways as possible. The Section 4(2) says that every public authority should disclose as much information as possible in regard to 17 categories of information under Section 4(1b) through suo motu manner so that the citizens won’t feel like using the Act to obtain information (meaning thereby applying for information and waiting upto a maximum of 30 days). Thus the Act itself discourages the application mode, and emphisises the suo motu mode. Moreover, the Act also mandates the appropriate Governments and competent authorities to prescribe the rate of fees to be charged from the public against the supply of information under Section 4(4), otherwise all this shall be made available free. One can ask for inspection of suo motu information also, since the Explanation to Section 4 defines ‘dissemination’ as including inspection of public offices.

Thus you can ask for instant inspection of the concerned public authority without having to submit any application or fees. Mind you, the application is required under Section 6, not Section 4. And the fees, which have been declared so far by the Centre and quite many State Governments are the fees chargeable under Sections 6(1), 7(1)and 7(5). They have omitted the fees under Section 4(4), though the Section 27(2) has inter alia provided for the permissibility of prescription of 4 kinds of fees that include fees under Section 4(4).

Thus Act clearly distinguishes between two modes of accessing information and two kinds of fees, and nay, emphasises the suo motu mode under Section 4 as against the application mode under Section 6.

It is only due to the prevailing misgiving among the offcials and civil society groups that most people take the application mode as the only means of obtaining information (including inspection).

What I say here is based upon the actual success of obtaining instant and free information from various public authories at district and sub-district levels in Orissa under Section 4 by various civil society groups across the State. Initially the officials refused to comply with, but when they were shown the provisions, most of them yielded and provided the information. But to start with, the information seekers had to move in groups to better impress the concerned officials. Such group exercises at field level are still going on. You may try this method in your State.

Chitta Behera,


3 Responses to “RTI and Inspection”

  1. ramesh wasudeo said

    what can be the compulsions in your view of the govt seeking amendment to RTI?.

    this is important. perhaps there is a wayout and the govt problems could be solved without diluting law for commom man.

    whatever specific misuse is creating problem in governance can be identified and packed to sec 8 for exclusion. refusing to talk isnot a step in positive direction


  2. ramesh wasudeo said

    ideally if suo moto declarations are made under sec 4, many applications can be avoided.


  3. Rafique said

    I will be greatly obliged to receive any information about the malpractises applied by private and public schools concerning milching money of the poor parents.
    Are the schools accountable to the huge money they receive every month on one pretext or the other.
    Is there any group working on it.
    Pl help me. I would like to complain about forcefully subscribing to INDIA TODAY which has hardly anything good for the sixth and seven standard students or simply the high School level children. Can we do something on this point.
    Pl help.
    If students don’t subscribe through the school they are harassed.
    Pl suggest what can be done.
    KINDLY Send me email IDs of concerned bodies and officials where I can post my complain.

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