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Guidelines for Public Information Officers

  Ensure that there is a board in your office giving the following details:1. Name of the PIO and his designation 2. Designation of the Appellate Authority and his address

  If the requested information does not relate to your office, follow the provision in Section 6(3) by forwarding the petition within 5 days

  Send your reply within the prescribed time limit, viz. within 30 days of receipt of the petition.

  Remember you become liable for action under Section 20(1) which provides for a maximum penalty of Rs 25,000 at the rate of Rs 250 per day for any dereliction. You may also become liable for disciplinary action under Section 20(2).

  Mention your name while giving reply. Merely saying Public Information Officer or giving your designation is not enough.

  At the end of the reply, specifically give details of the appellate authority to whom the petitioner can file an appeal under Section 19(1) of the RTI Act

  Try to give reply in the suggested format for reply given in this website

  Answer each point specifically. If warranted, you may club similar items into one group and give a reply for the entire group.

  If you reject any particular request, give the reason for rejection and also mention the specific section in the RTI act under which such information is exempted. If you say that a particular information is exempted under a particular section of the RTI Act, please explain the reason for saying that the specified section is applicable. Or if there is a court precedent on the issue, please mention that.

  If any additional fees are liable to be paid by the petitioner, inform him how much he has to pay, how the amount was calculated and how he has to remit the amount. Do not simply say information will be supplied on payment of requisite fees. Do not say "Pay Rs 2 per page" without intimating for how many pages he has to pay.

  Follow the Tamil Nadu RTI (Fees) Rules in computing the amount to be paid

  Do not ask the petitioner to disclose why he need the information

  Do not reject a request merely saying there is no public interest. The question of public interest or larger public interest arises only in certain circumstances specified in the Act

  If you are the PIO and the petition is addressed to you by your designation, do not return the petition saying it must specifically bear the words "Public Iinformation Officer" in the address. If you do so, you will become liable to answer charge of refusing to accept an application under RTI

  Attend any enquiry for you which you have been summoned with the following records:

a) The original file in which the RTI petition submitted under Section 6(1) of RTI Act was processed.

b) All records and registers relevant to the appeal

c) Certified photocopy of the pages of the Despatch Register in which the despatch of reply sent, if any, is recorded.

d) The current year’s RTI Register maintained in the Office

e) In case the PIO had sought the assistance of any other officer under Section 5(5) of the RTI Act, a copy of the letter along with the name, designation of that officer and his present place of working.

f) Acknowledgment, if any, from the appellant for reply given to him

g) Certified copies of material that can be given to the appellant, subject to exemptions valid under RTI Act, if the PIO proposes to give such materials in response to the appeal

  If you require the assistance of any other officer in your office or in your subodinate offices, send a letter to the concerned officer by name saying that you are seeking his assistance under Section 5(4) of the RTI Act. In that event that officer whose assistance has been sought will also be deemed to be a Public Information Officer vide Section 5(5) and will become liable for any failure. This is particularly useful if the information is available in another wing which does not come directly under your control.

  If you are the PIO, make it a point to attend the enquiry without fail. You may depute a representative subject to the following conditions: a) The representative must be of sufficient seniority. An Office Superintendent attending in the place of a Principal will not be accepted. b) It is the discretion of the Commission to allow a representative.

  Please remember if any representative you send is unable to give a proper response during the enquiry and the Commission decides to issue a show cause notice, it will be to you and not to the representative.

  Ensure that the form received by you along with the Notice of Inquiry is duly filled up without omitting any column

  Always bring a detailed note about the case and submit it at the time of the enquiry

  If any show cause notice is issued to you or if any explanation has been called for from you in any order issued at the time of disposal of an appeal, you must submit a written explanation.

  If you have been issued a Show Cause Notice or if you are given an opportunity to appear and give an explanation, there is no question of sending a representative on your behalf. You have to attend in person with a written explanation. It is up to you to justify why action should not be taken against you.

  The only role of the Assistant Public Information Officer is to receive petitions and appeals and forward them to the concerned PIO or Appellate Authority. He is not authorized to send a reply. It is always the responsibility of the PIO to send a reply.