Salient Features of Right To Information Act 2005
- Replaced Freedom of Information Act 2002.
- Jammu and Kashmir has separate Right To Information Act – RTI 2009.
- RTI relaxes restrictions placed by Official Secrets Act 1923.
- 3 Levels – Public Information Officer, First Appellate Authority, Central Information Commission(CIC).
- Time period for Public Information Officer : Expeditiously or within 30 days from the date of receipt by public authority.
- Maximum time gap for 1st appeal : 30 days since limit of supply of information is expired.
- Time period for Appellate Authority : Within 30 days or in exceptional cases 45 days from the date of receipt by public authority.
- Maximum time gap for 2nd appeal : 90 days since limit of supply of information is expired.
- RTI act also asks for computerization and proactively publish information.
- Bodies applicable under RTI : Constitutional bodies at center and state ( Legislature, Executive, Judiciary), bodies/NGOs owned/financed by government, privatized public utility companies.
- Bodies excluded under RTI : Central Intelligence and Security Agencies, agencies of state specified through notification. The exclusion is not absolute.
- Central Information Commission shall consist of : 1 Chief Information Commissioner and upto 10 Central Information Commissioners.
- The Chief Information Commissioner shall hold office for a term of five years from the date on which he enters upon his office and shall not be eligible for reappointment.
- 31 sections and 6 chapters in the act.
- Section 8 deals with information exempted under the purview of this act.
Article 19(1) of the Indian Constitution specifies that the Right to Information (RTI) is a part of the fundamental rights. It says that every citizen has freedom of speech and expression. In 1976, in the Raj Narain vs the State of UP, it was held by the Supreme Court that people cannot speak unless they know. Hence the Right to Information is embedded in Article 19. It was also said in the same case that the in the Indian democracy, people are the masters which give them the right to know about the functioning of the government. RTI Act provides machinery for exercising this fundamental right.
As per the RTI Act 2005, every citizen has the right to receive a timely response from the government for any information that is sought by them with respect to the functioning of the government.
The basic objective of RTI is
- Empowerment of the citizens
- Promotion of transparency and accountability in the functioning of the government
- Prevention and elimination of corruption
- Making the democracy work FOR the people in its real sense.
An informed citizen is better equipped to have a better vigilance on the instruments of governance in order to make the government more accountable to the governed. RTI is a huge leap in keeping the citizens informed about the activities of the government.
An RTI portal is created by the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions in order to facilitate the process of RTI. Besides access to information related to RTI, published disclosures by various public authorities under the state and the central governments, it acts as a gateway for obtaining information on the details of first Appellate Authorities, Principle Information Officers etc,.
- Every Public authority is obligated to maintain a computerised version of all the records in a manner that could be accessed over a network at any place within the country by issuing it to the person on his/her demand.
- Various channels need to be frequently updated by the public authority so that the use of RTI Act to seek information can be kept to a bare minimum.
A written or electronic request must be placed by a person seeking information under the RTI Act. No reason shall be sought from the person placing the request except the contact details in case the authorities would have to contact him/her. However, the authorities are not obligated to provide any such information that is received under confidence by a foreign government, cabinet papers, information forbidden to be shared by the court of law, information that could potentially hurt the sovereignty and integrity of India.
Under the RTI, every citizen is empowered to:
- Seek information / ask questions to the government
- Request for copies of government documents
- Inspect government documents and works
- Request for samples of materials of any government work