RTI or Right To Information is an act of Indian parliament that empowers the common people to seek information from the government. It empowers the Indian citizens to inspect the government work, take notes and get certified photocopies to know the status of work.
It’s been ten years since the RTI Act came into existence to empower people and bring transparency to the system. However, people have been using it in rather unconventional ways. The queries that the government receives often fall in the range from being funny to outright absurd.
In technical terms, these queries fall under the frivolous or vexatious category which means they denote an action or the bringer of an action that is brought without sufficient grounds for winning, purely to cause annoyance to the defendant. In the language of the internet, they were filed just to troll people.
Here are some of the funniest RTI applications filed by people in India:
1. The case of the missing ‘ladoos’
In February 2008, the National Human Resource Commission was trolled by this girl from UP, by asking them why ‘ladoos’ sent by her to US President George W. Bush did not reach him on ‘Rakshabandhan.’ She also insisted that the commission takes appropriate action on the serious issue.
2. How much ‘paan’ do MCD officials really chew?
A resident of Delhi filed an application in September 2010 seeking details of the quantity and quality of tobacco and ‘paan’ consumed by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi officials. It doesn’t just stop here, he also wanted to know what ingredients does the ‘paan’ have.
Well, I understand his suspicions seeing how most officials always seem so dazed.
3. How religious in the governor?
If given the opportunity, people try to know really vague things. So, in May 2010, a curious soul from Hyderabad filed an RTI application to get the details from Andhra Pradesh governor on how often does he visit the temple. Along with that, he asked for a copy of the dinner menu hosted at his official residence.
I’m still trying to understand what he was doing there.
4. Some people can confuse RTI with Shaadi.com
A man in his late forties from Kutch Gujarat filed a request under the RTI Act demanding information on the eligible females in the government department for marriage. The request was made to the Tamil Nadu state information commission. In his application, he also stated the fact that an eligible bachelor from any government department would do for him. He just really wanted to get married to a government employee.
5. Bhai ye religious patni kya bhav chal rahi hai?
Bringing mythology to the playing field of RTI, an applicant from Punjab University asked for the price of time according to the famous Indian scriptures ‘the Ramayana and Mahabharata.’ To add on, he asked also asked for the price of a religious bride according to these scriptures in his application.
*banging head on the wall*
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6. Can we have the election symbols with the rainbow filter?
Another weird curiosity was raised by a political activist through his RTI application in which he was wondering why the election symbols on the voting machine were not colorful and instead displayed in black and white.
Cost cutting, may be?
7. You must never mess with a smart kid
The police were given a challenge by a 9-year-old boy named Pranav who used an RTI to force the police officers to file an FIR for his lost bicycle. The police had initially refused the to file the FIR for a trivial offense.
I have a feeling that this kid is going to grow up and do some great stuff.
8. How about filing an RTI application over an RTI activist?
Usually, it is the RTI activists who seek information from the politicians by filing RTI applications. However, in November 2009, an RTI activist from Dhanakawadi claimed that the same tactic was being used by the politicians in his area to find what out what he was up to so that they could stop him and their illegal activities would remain undetected.
9. Do you know what underpants should you wear before the Prime Minister?
It is one of the most absurd queries received by RTI act provoked by a ridiculous reason. A “troubled” citizen filed a petition asking what undergarments can be worn before the Prime Minister. The question was asked directly to the PMO’s Office asking for the exact “specification of undergarments.” Why? Because previously he had been arrested for stripping down to his briefs scribbled with anti-government slogans in a government convention addressed by the PM.
I am so impressed by this guy’s guts.
10. Sir, where can I get tomorrow’s question paper from?
Another petition based on a totally dubious and cheeky demand was when, an applicant filed a petition wanting to know the address of the places where question papers of the Aligarh Muslim University were printed, and where they went for evaluation.
Isn’t it obvious why he wanted to know that?
11. Cost-cutting – Delhi University style
Now this is a classic example of deliberate misuse of the law. Some students from Delhi University (DU) would file cases asking for duplicate mark-sheets under the act, simply because they thought they could have it for a paltry Rs 10, and hence, they won’t have to pay the compulsory fee of Rs 500 required to generate a duplicate mark sheet.”
Only in DU, can you find this happening!
Even though these incidents give us a good laugh, before filing such vexatious petitions, people need to remember that there are people who are in bad state and who seek the reports of their RTI applications as soon as possible. Let’s not keep them waiting by clogging the way with these frivolous issues.