Question: 1. Who is the appellate authority and who will appoint them ?
Answer: As per section 2 (a) of the Right to Information Act, the head of the immediate upper administrative office of the information delivering unit will be the appellate authority. In case of absence of any such office, the administrative chief of the concerned information delivering unit will be the appellate authority.
Question: 2. Which organizations will appoint a ‘Designated Information Officer’ ?
Answer: As per Section 2 (b) and 2(d) of the Right to Information Act 2009, the following organizations/offices will appoint Designated Information Officers in their head, divisional, district and upazila offices:
(a) Any constitutional body of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh;
(b) Ministries, Divisions and Offices established as per the Rules under Article 55(6) of the Constitution of Bangladesh;
(c) All statutory bodies;
(d) Private organizations operated by the Government financing or supported by a grant from government funds;
(e) Non-government organizations receiving with foreign assistance;
(f) Any private organization commissioned for any public work as per contract with the Government or any organization of the Government.
(g) Organizations to be determined by the government through gazette notification from time to time.
Question: 3. How will information of the judiciary be made available?
Answer: It is necessary for the judiciary as per Section 2(b)(i) of the Right to Information Act to furnish any information sought by citizens. Under Section 9 of the Act, a person upon applying for any information may get it from the concerned Designated Officer within a certain period.
Question: 4. What is the logic of giving information to a third party?
Answer: According to section 2(i) of the 2009 Right to Information Act, a third party means another person or group other than the information seeker or information providing authority associated with the information. The law provides rationale for this.. For example, the name of Upazila Sub-registrar may come as a third party with Assistant Commissioner (land) for any information pertaining to land.
Question: 5. Between the 1923 Secrecy Act and the 2009 Right to Information Act which will be given precedence while providing information?
Answer: The 2009 Right to Information Act will have precedence for those sections of the 1923 Secrecy Act which are contrary to the provision of information (Section 3).
Question: 6. When is information to be made available quickly?
Answer: As per section 9 (4) of the act, the Designated Officer will provide information within 24 hours of a request for information on life or death, arrest or release of a person from prison.
Question: 7. What benefits will marginal groups, particularly women and children, get from the law?
Answer: Section 4 of the Act guarantees that every citizen has the right to information and concerned authority is obligated to provide information at the request of a person. Nothing is mentioned for women and children separately.
Question: 8. How will poor and illiterate women collect information and what does the Act say concerning underprivileged women?
Answer: As per Section 4 of the Act, every person has the right to get information and the concerned authority is obligated to provide information at the request of a person. Nothing is mentioned for poor or illiterate women as the law is equal for all citizens. However, an illiterate person may apply for information by giving one’s finger print as per the law.
Question: 9. Will the Designated Officer be made responsible in cases where a person distorts information?
Answer: It is stated in the section 4 (5) of the 2009 Right to Information Rules that the Designated Officer will sign every page to be given to an applicant for information. The paper will contain the name, designation, signature and official seal of the Designated Officer. Thus, there is no scope to distort the information provided by the Designated Officer.
Question: 10. Is there any explanation provided in the Act on the definition of information?
Answer: Section 2 (f) of the Act clearly classifies information. For example, Information means any memo, book, design, map, agreement, information-data, log book, order, notice, document, sample, letter, statement, accounts, project proposal, photographs, audio-video, painting, film, electronically made instrument, machine readable documents and any informational material or its replica with regards to formation and functioning of any organization. However, any official note sheet or copy of a note sheet will not be included.
Question: 11. Is there any departmental law that will create problems for implementing out the Right to Information Act?
Answer: As per section 3 of the 2009 Right to Information Act, the Act will get priority in case of any conflict with departmental law to provide information to people.
Question: 12. Will the provision of acknowledgement of the recipient of information be included in ‘Schedule A’ ?
Answer: The Right to Information Rules 3 (2) ensures acknowledgement of information recipient.
Question: 13. Do all people have the right to get information?
Answer: Section 4 of the 2009 Right to Information Act guarantees that every citizen has the right to information and the concerned authority is obligated to provide information at the request of a person.
Question: 14. Will a bidder have the right to know about shortcomings of tender submissions by other bidders?
Answer: Under section 7 (3) of the 2009 Right to Information Act, it is not mandatory for any organization to provide information to anyone before completion of the procurement process or prior to finalization of the decision..
Question: 15. Is an application for any personal information allowed?
Answer: Section 7 and sub-section (h), (i), (j) and (r) of the Right to Information Act state that any information which may disrupt personal secrecy or endanger one’s life, any information given secretly to assist the law enforcing agencies, or any personal information protected by law, are not subject to mandatory disclosure.
Question: 16. Who will be appointed as Designated Officer to provide information in a college?
Answer: The principal of the college may discharge the duty or appoint any teacher of the college as a Designated Officer to provide information to public.
Question: 17. Is it allowed to seek any information on a case that is sub judice?
Answer: Under section 7 (k) and (l) of the Act, an information officer is not obliged to provide any sub judice information which the court restricted to publish, or which may be in contempt of the court, nor any information which may disrupt the investigation process if disclosed.
Question: 18. Personal information of a patient (e.g. whether he/she has HIV, AIDS etc.) may not be provided without permission of the patient. What can be done in that case according to medical ethics?
Answer: As per section 7 (h) and (i) of the act, it is not mandatory to disclose any personal information.
Question: 19. Is it mandatory to provide a postmortem report?
Answer: Anybody may apply for postmortem report. But, under section 7 (L) of the act, the concerned official is not bound to give any information on postmortem report if it is related to a case which is still under investigation.
Question: 20. Is anybody obliged to give personal information?
Answer: Under section 7 (h) and (i) of the act, it is not mandatory to publish any personal information.
Question: 21. Is provision of information by mobile phone allowed? Is it obligatory?
Answer: A request for information should be in written in the interest of preserving records. As per section 8(3) of the act, the request should be in a specific format or printed form and be sent by e-mail. Hence, there is no scope for giving information through mobile phone as the information officer must write name, signature and designation etc. on every page of the document.
Question: 22. How will illiterate persons apply for information?
Answer: According to Section 8 of the Right to Information Act, an application for information should be written. Designated Officers will help illiterate persons, who will give fingerprint as per rule while applying for any information.
Question: 23. What should a Designated Officer do and not do while giving information?
Answer: As per section 9 of the Right to Information Act-2009, a Designated officer should do the following while giving information:
(a) The Designated Officer will provide information within a maximum 20 working days of receipt of an application from a citizen.
(b) The information should be given within 30 working days if more than one unit or authorities are involved with the information.
(c) If the Designated Officer for any reason is unable to provide information, he/she will inform the applicant within 10 working days of the reason.
(d) The Designated Officer will provide primary information within 24 hours of receiving any application if it is related to any matter of life, death, arrest or release of a person from jail.
(e) If the Designated Officer possesses the information to be supplied to the applicants, he/she will ascertain a fair price of the information and the applicant will be requested to pay the price within five working days.
(f) If a third party is involved with providing the information, the Designated officer will issue a notice to the third party to provide a written or verbal opinion within five working days of receiving the request.
(g) After receiving the opinion of the third party, the Designated officer will take decision about giving information to the applicant after consideration.
(h) A request for information for which provision is not mandatory should not be rejected outright. The portion of the information that is not mandatory for disclosure may be logically withheld and the remaining information may be provided to the applicant. The Designated Officer will help the physically impaired persons in getting information.
According to Section 7 of the Act, it is not mandatory for a Designated Officer to provide information on 20 matters in the schedule under Section 32 of the Act and eight organizations are exempted from giving information. However, these organizations with prior approval of the Information Commission must provide information if it is related to corruption issues or violation of human rights.
Question: 24. Is anything mentioned in the Act for the disabled?
Answer: Section 9 (10) of the Act has a special instruction that Designated Officers extend help to provide information to physically impaired persons.
Question: 25. Who will appoint Designated Officers?
Answer: As per section 10 of the Right to Information Act, every authority will appoint a Designated Officer within 60 days of the entry of this Act into force.
Question: 26. What action will be taken against the officials who say they are not obliged to give information?
Answer: As per Section 9 of the Right to Information Act, a Designated Officer is bound to respond to an applicant within the stipulated time. In case of failure of the Designated Officer to do so, the applicant, under Section 24 of the Act, may appeal to the appellate authority within the next 30 days. Within 15 days the appellate authority will either give directives to the concerned Designated Officer to provide information or reject the appeal if it found to lack grounds. If the applicant becomes aggrieved with the decision, he/she may submit a complaint with the Information Commission within the next 30 days according to section 25. The Information Commission will arrange a hearing of all concerned parties and take a decision in this regard within 45 days. However, time for resolution of the complaint may be extended in case the statement of a person or investigation is required. In any case,, the extended time must not be more than 75 days. If the Designated Officer is found guilty in the investigation, the commission may recommend for departmental punishment including fine.
Question: 27. Can the same person serve as the ‘appellate authority’ and ‘Designated Officer ’ at the same time ?
Answer: According to the 2009 Right to Information Act, the scope for the same person to be the ‘appellate authority’ and ‘Designated officer ’ at the same time is limited.
Question: 28. Is there any accountability of the Information Commission? It is accountable to whom and to what extent is the Commission answerable to the Ministry of Information?
Answer: Under section 11 (2) of the act, the Information Commission is a statutory independent body accountable to the President. The Ministry of Information gives secretarial support to the Commission.
Question: 29. What action can the Information Commission take in a case where an organization gives wrong information?
Answer: As per section 13 (e) of the Act, the Information Commission have the power to receive any complaint against any organization, carry out an investigation and dispose of the matter as per law.
Question: 30. Is it possible to take any departmental action against the officials responsible for giving misleading information?
Answer: According to section 13(e) of the 2009 Right to Information Act, the Information Commission has the power to impose a fine against an official under section 27 (d) and (e), bring charges of misconduct under section 27 (3) against any official and recommend departmental punishment.
Question: 31. What action may be taken against the Designated Officer if he/she denies information?
Answer: If a Designated Officer denies any information, the applicant for information may file an appeal with appellate authority within 30 days under section 24 of the act.
Question: 32. Is there any fee to get information?
Answer: The 2009 Right to Information Rules in the Form no-8 (d) stipulates the following fees for information:
(1) For supplying any written document (map, design, photograph, computer print) on A3 or A4 size paper, every page is 2 Taka, and for any larger size copy the actual price of the paper.
(2) For supplying information on a disc, CD etc.: (a) free of cost if the applicant supplies the disc or CD, (b) actual price of the disc or CD if it is supplied by the information provider.
(3) Free of cost if the information is supplied to anybody as per law, government rules, or directives.
(4) Any commercial publication at its sale value.
Question: 33. Is there any honourarium for a Designated Officer?
Answer: The Right to Information Act has no provision of an honourarium to Designated Officers.
Question: 34. How will publications on the 2009 Right to Information Act be made available?
Answer: A gazetted copy of the 2009 Right to Information Act published by the Bangladesh Government Press will be available at Taka 12. Both the Bangla and English version of the act can also be downloaded free of cost from www.bgpress.gov.bd or www.moi.gov.bd. In addition, the Bangladesh Information Commission has published a book with important questions and answers on the “Right to Information Act -2009” and “Right to Information Rules-2009” for free distribution.
Question: 35. Will there be arranged any information delivery/ training programme on the 2009 Right to Information Act?
Answer: An information delivery programme and meetings to exchange views on the 2009 Right to Information Act will gradually be arranged at district and sub-district (upazila) levels. A coordinated training manual will be prepared and orientation training programmes will be arranged for Designated Officers at government/ semi- government/ autonomous training academies. In addition, designated officers of the ministries/ divisions/ and organizations will be given training in the Information Commission office. Later, the Information Commission will give training to the designated officers at district level with the support of the Deputy Commissioners.
Question: 36. What is the role of journalists to implement the Right to Information Act?
Answer: Journalists of both electronic and print media can play an important role in implementing the 2009 Right to Information Act. Their publicity will enhance the level of public awareness about the Act and make public understand the useful aspects of the Act.
Question: 37. Whether information can be sought from the police and RAB?
Answer: Certainly, information may be sought from the police and RAB. However, under section 32 of the 2009 Right to Information Act, the Act will not be applicable for the Special Branch of Bangladesh Police and intelligence cell of the RAB. However, any information related to corruption of the organization or human rights violations should be provided upon prior approval of the Information Commission.
Question: 38. How many persons for whom the law was enacted know about the law and how they will benefit from the law?
Answer: The present government has enacted the law for the people of the country. It is not the sole responsibility of Information Commission, but rather the responsibility of all to implement the law. The Information Commission will take all measures to reach the benefit of the law to the doorstep of the people of the country by taking various short, medium and long-term planning for publicity and promotion of the law. The Information Commission believes that people will certainly benefit from the law.
Question: 39. What is the relation of the Right to Information Act with Citizen’s Charters?
Answer: Citizen’s Charter make public what kind of services people may get from an organization or office as well as the process and terms and conditions of getting the services. Through Citizen’s Charter people can get an idea about the functions of an office. The charter is also one of the components of implementing the Right to Information.
Question: 40. What the Commission can do if the government doesn’t follow the law?
Answer: The government doesn’t mean any individual or office, but it is rather a composite entity. If any organization or concerned Designated Officer of an office breaks the law, the Information Commission may take necessary action as per law. If required, the Commission may impose a fine on the Designated Officer and recommend for departmental action.
Question: 41. Is there any provision for the protection of the government official/ Designated Officers? Can a Designated Officer be sued for giving any information?
Answer: Government officials/ designated officers get protection. Under section 31 of the Right to Information Act, no criminal or civil case can be filed against a government official/ Designated Officer even if information given by him/her in good faith causes damage to anybody’s interest.
Question: 42. Will multinational companies be brought under the Right to Information Act?
Answer: It is required to discuss whether the multinational companies would be brought under the law. The Information Commission believes that lawmakers will take a decision that will be better for the country.
Question: 43. How do government officials/employees get information from other offices?
Answer: There is no problem of getting information by government officials/ employees from other offices in the 2009 Right to Information Act. They may get information in the same way as the citizens.
Question: 44. Is the Police Force obliged to give information?
Answer: As per law, the Police Force is obliged to provide information. However, as per schedule 7 of the section 32 of the Right to Information Act, the Special Branch of Bangladesh Police and intelligence cell of the RAB were exempted from this obligation. However, any information related to corruption of the organization or human rights violations should be provided upon prior approval of the Information Commission.
Question: 45. May the Act be amended?
Answer: It is the duty of the government to amend a law in the interest of people. The government in consultation with the Information Commission may amend the Act in the parliament.
Question: 46. Will a Designated Officer be appointed in every office and is it required to consult with the head of the office before that appointment?
Answer: A Designated Officer should be appointed in every office. The head of the office himself can do the job or give the responsibility to any official/ employee.
Question: 47. Is it essential to put on display a list of all information on the front of an office?
Answer: Many departments are following this method, which is benefiting people. The Information Commission will promulgate rules in this regard and it is now under process.
Question: 48. Will information be put on a billboard ?
Answer: The commission is actively considering this matter.
Question: 49. What is an information providing unit?
Answer: An “information providing unit” means head office, divisional office, regional office, district office or upazila office of any department, directorate or office attached to or under any ministry, division or office of the Government.
Question: 50. Can only one designated officer be appointed when there are a number of similar offices?
Answer: Consideration should be given as to whether the offices are separate or not. If they are situated in different places, every office will be considered as information providing unit and a designated officer should be appointed in every unit. Such officer should be appointed up to Upazila level.
Question: 51. Is there any provision concerning destroying files in the Act?
Answer: Concerned authorities may classify the files according to the provision of the Secretariat and take necessary measures in this regard. However, the Information Commission will clarify the through promulgating necessary regulations.
Question: 52. If any confusion over providing information arises, how it will be resolved?
Answer: In that case, the designated officer, as per law, will discuss the matter with concerned authorities. If any further confusion arises, the designated officer should go to Information Commission.
Question: 53. Is it the responsibility of the Information Commission to disseminate the laws which are mostly used in the country?
Answer: Every ministry, division, department and offices function as per law. Concerned offices at their own initiative play the role if collecting and disseminating and promotion of laws to make people aware.
Question: 54. How will the application form and appeal form be made available ?
Answer: There are specific formats of the application form and the appeal form in the Right to Information Rules. The rules were published on November 1, 2009 from Bangladesh Government (BG) Press, Dhaka. It costs only Taka 4 only. In addition, the form can be downloaded free of cost from the website www.bgpress.gov.bd. Furthermore, the Information Commission has published the 2009 Right to Information Act, the 2009 Right to Information Rules and a book with important questions and answers in this regard to be distributed free of cost. These forms are also available in this book. Finally, both the forms will be available in the website this month.
Question: 55. Who will provide information if an office has no Designated Officer?
Answer: Under the 2009 Right to Information Act, the appointment of a Designated Information Officer is mandatory for every office. In the absence of the Designated Officer, an alternative officer will discharge the duty.
Question: 56. Are junior government official/ employees allowed to seek any information from senior officials?
Answer: The law doesn’t bar any official/ employee from seeking information from higher authorities.
Question: 57: Has any step been taken to include RTI into academic curricula?
Answer: The Information Commission has drawn the attention of the Ministry of Education and Parliamentary Standing Committee on Ministry of Information in this regard.
Question: 58. Will the Information Commission submit its annual report?
Answer: Yes, the annual report of the commission will be available on its web portal.
Question: 59. May journalists, except aggrieved persons, lodge any complaint with Information Commission?
Answer: There is no separate provision for journalists. If they are aggrieved in getting any information, journalists may lodge a complaint with Information Commission.
Question: 60. What arrangement has the Information Commission taken to facilitate the different offices to get the RTI, RTI Rules and other related rules in a easy way?
Answer: The commission has already undertaken a programme in this regard. The construction of a web portal is now under process. The Act and Rules can be downloaded free of cost from the web site www.moi.gov.bd and www.bgpress.gov.bd. The Information Commission has published 2009 Right to Information Act, 2009 Right to Information Rules and a book with important questions and answers in this regard to be distributed free of cost. The process of publishing the regulations as gazette is underway..
Question: 61. What is the progress of implementation of the Right to Information Act over the past year?
• Information Commission was established after the 2009 Right to Information Act came into effect. The Chief Information Commission and two other commissioners joined office in the first week of July, 2009.
• Authorities approved manpower structure of the commission with 76 people.
• Appointment rules are under the process of approval.
• Four officials were appointed through deputation.
• The Right to Information Rules was published in gazette and making of regulations is now under process.
• The office of the commission has been set up on the third floor of the Anthropology Building.
• Procurement of office materials, computers, transport etc. for the office is completed.
• The Information Commission has published the 2009 Right to Information Act, the 2009 Right to Information Rules and a book with important questions and answers.
• Ambassador Mohammad Zamir took office on 31.03.2010 as the new Chief Information Commissioner after expiry of the tenure of the M Azizur Rahman on 10.01.2010.
• Amid many limitations, meetings for delivering information on the Right to Information Act was held in 25 upazilas up until June, 2010.
• Meetings and seminars were held in different government/ private offices, NGO, electronic and print media houses, World Bank, UNDP, ILO and training academies.