Right to Information Act 2005
IT is an Act of the Parliament of India to provide right to information for citizens and replaces the Freedom of Information Act 2002.This law was passed by Parliament of India on 15 June 2005. The Act came into effect on 12 October 2005 and has been implemented all over India except to the state of Jammu and Kashmir which act is own similar to Central Government. All the constitutional authorities come under this Act, making it one of the most powerful laws of the country.
HOW TO GET THE INFORMATION FROM RTI
Every Indian should know about RTI filing. The Act is so people-friendly that if an illiterate person approaches a PIO and wants some information under the RTI, he/she can tell his requirement to the PIO and the officer is obliged to write it down for them and read it to them before processing it. The postal department has appointed many APIOS across its many offices. Their job is to receive RTI applications and forward them to the PIO or appellate authority concerned. Currently, Central and a few State government departments have facility for filing Online RTI. This is as good as sending an RTI application without having to worry about the particulars.
For central government departments one needs to pay Rs. 10 with every RTI application. Mode of payment may vary from government to government. While submitting application in person, some organisations accept cash while some do not. Some ask for Court Fee Stamp, some ask for Indian postal order (IPO). When sending an RTI application by post, we can use IPO/ court fee stamp of Rs. 10. Those below poverty line (BPL) do not have to pay Rs. 10 as fee for filing an RTI.
INFORMATION WHICH IS TO BE DISCLOSED
According to section 2(j) of RTI “Information” means any material in any, orders, logbooks, contracts, reports, papers, samples, models, data material held in any electronic form and information relating to any private body which can be accessed by a public authority under any other law for a time being in form, including records, documents, memos, e-mails, opinions, advices, press releases force. Section 8(2) specifies that “if there is great public interest in disclosure, all information must be given, even if it exempt.” There are some specific instances whereby RTI information cannot be furnished. These instances relate to matters which:
Would affect national security, sovereignty, strategic, economic and/or scientific interest.
Have been disallowed by the court to be released.
Relates to trade secrets or intellectual property, information which might affect/harm the competitive position of a third party.
Relates to information under fiduciary relationship.
Relates to foreign government information.
Would affect the life/physical safety of any person.
Would affect the process of an investigation.
Relates to cabinet papers
Relates to personal information without any public interest.
If information is not provided or wrongly refused, the citizen can go in appeal to an Appellate Authority who would be an official in the same department, senior to the PIO. The Appellate Authority has to give a decision in 30 days. If this too does not give a satisfactory result, one can appeal, to the State or Central Information Commissioner, which is an Independent Constitutional Authority established under the act. The Act provides for a penalty to POI for delay, or for malafide denial of information, or giving false information.
GOVERNMENT AGENCIES WHICH ARE EXEMPTED FROM RTI
Intelligence Bureau, Ministry of Home Affair, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Ministry of Finance, Central Economic Intelligence Bureau, , Directorate of Enforcement, Ministry of Finance Narcotics Control Bureau, Aviation Research Center, Special Frontier Force. Border Security Force, Ministry of Home Affairs, Central Reserve Police Force, Ministry of Home Affairs Indo – Tibetan Border Police, Central Industrial Security Force, National Security Guard, Ministry of Home Affairs Special Service Bureau, Ministry of Home Affairs Assam Rifles, Ministry of Home Affairs Sashastra Seema Bal, Ministry of Home Affairs Special Protection Group, Defence Research and Development Organisation, Ministry of Defence Border Road Development Organisation Financial Intelligence Unit, India Directorate General Income Tax (Investigation), National Technical Research Organisation National Security Council Secretariat.
The RTI Act is one of the legislation that is indeed the pride of Indian democracy. The RTI Act, as it stands today, is a strong tool to uphold the spirit of democracy. Any attempt to dilute the provisions of the RTI Act will quell its success.