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Thursday, July 11, 2013

RTI Activists & Letter-writers, Get Useful Tips from Govt’s Manual of Office Procedures

Dear friends,
Please study the government’s Manual of Office Procedures to understand how documentation is done in various government offices:   Then you can refer to documents by their proper names given in this document e.g. “Diary Number, Index Slip, Messenger Book” etc.  Because the biggest challenge for filing an RTI application is how to correctly word it; a properly-worded application means half the battle is won before it begins!

·         Definitions (Chapter 2)
·         Forms & Procedures of Communication (Chapter 8)
·         Dak-Receipt, Registration & Distribution (Chapter 4) to understand how faxes, emails and letters marked “Immediate” or “Confidential” are dealt with in the government.
·         File Numbering System (Chapter 11), including the system for Reconstruction of File (point no. 99) and Tracking File Movements (point no. 100)
·         Present location of the file in Departmental Record Room, National Archives of India, Record Retention Schedule etc., whether computerized or not, etc. (Appendix 56 and 66)

·         The way you word an RTI application will determine the way the Public Information Officer (PIO) responds to it. An RTI application that is excessively detailed, appears full of anger, or seems like a personal challenge thrown at him, may not only trigger negative feelings in him, but also cause him to postpone replying to your application. Afterwards, as the 30-day deadline for giving information approaches, he may wish to stonewall you by citing irrelevant or partially relevant rules simply because he wants to dispose off your application with minimum time and energy. So, keep it simple!
·         If you do not get proper information at first, you may be forced to enter into a lengthy appeal procedure. The final outcome of your appeal (whether first appeal, second appeal, or further appeals in High Court and Supreme Court) may to depend heavily on the exact words you have used in your RTI application. So, frame your questions with care!

·         Tips on wording an RTI application, read:
·         Pitfalls to avoid:
·         Specimen of good RTI Application:   

Warm Regards,

GRATEFUL ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: Thank you activist Ameet Israni for emailing the Manual of Procedures to me today. Of course it is nothing new, and of course, everybody knows it is available on the internet, but sometimes, drawing someone’s attention helps a lot!