Right to Information Act - An overview M.L Sharma Central Information Commissioner BY
General RTI Act, 2005 came into effect on 12th October, 2005. Establishes a regime of RTI for citizens of India Over rides Official Secrets Act, 2003 Transparency –a norm & secrecy an exception Informed citizenry vital to the functioning of democracy
UN General Assembly Resolution of 1946.
“ Freedom of information is a fundamental human right and the touch stone of all the freedoms to which the UN is consecrated.”
Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 (Art 19).
International Covenant on Civil & Political Rights (Art 19(2)).
UN Convention Against Corruption, 2003 (Art-13).
European Convention of Human Rights, 1950.
The African Chapter on Human and Peoples Right, 1981.
Inter American Declaration of Principles of Freedom of Expression, 2000.
Declaration of the Principles of Freedom of Expression in Africa, 2000.
Art 19 of Constitution guarantees freedom of speech and expression.
Supreme Court in Secretary, Ministry of I&B Vs Cricket Association of Bengal (1955).
Bennett Coleman (1973) - RTI held to be included in Art 19.
In Raj Narain (1975)-held that people have a right to know every public act.
S P Gupta case (1982)
PUCL Case (2004) –RTI, a Human Right.
Initiative of Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangthan
Assertion of RTI by asking for copies of bills, vouchers and names of persons shown in the muster rolls.
Purpose of preventing misappropriation of funds.
MKSS succeeded in getting photocopies of relevant documents revealing misappropriation of funds.
MKSS organized Jan Sunwai, first ever in history of Rajasthan, during 1994-95.
Similar exercise by Lok Satta, an NGO in Andhra Pradesh.
DoPT set a Working Group on RTI and Promotion of Open and Transparent Govt. in Jan, 1997 under Shri H. D. Shourie.
Submitted draft bill of Freedom of Information in May, 1997.
Government of India enacted Freedom of Information Bill, 2000.
Freedom of Information Act passed in 2002.
Freedom of Information Act repealed in 2005 and substituted by RTI Act, 2005.
Definition of Information [Section 2 (f)] Any material in any form, including -
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 the time being in force.
Definition of Right to Information [Section 2(j)] Right to information accessible under the RTI Act which is held by or under the control of any public authority and includes the right to -
Inspection of work, documents, records
Taking notes, extracts or certified copies of documents of records;
Taking certified samples of material;
Obtaining information in the form of diskettes, floppies, tapes, video cassettes or in any other electronic mode or through printouts where such information is stored in a computer or in any other device.
Suo moto disclosure – Sec 4
Public Authorities obligated to maintain all records duly cataloged and indexed
Before within 120 days from the enactment of this Act –
- Particulars of organization, functions and duties
- Powers and duties of officers/employees and procedure followed in decision making process
Rules, regulations, instructions, manuals.
Designation of Public Information Officers – Sec 5
Request for obtaining information - Sec 6
Time Limit for disposal of requests
CPIO – 30 days
48 hrs if information sought concerns life or liberty of a person
40 days when third party is involved
- 45 days if information pertains to corruption or Human Rights violations by scheduled Security & Int Agencies
Public Information Officer (PIO)
Assistant Public Information Officer (APIO)
Designated Appellate Officers
Ministries & Departments
Information Exempted from Disclosure
Prejudicially affects sovereignty and integrity of India and strategic, scientific or economic interests of the State or relation with foreign States.
Information forbidden to be published by court.
Disclosure which would cause breach of privilege of Parliament or the State Legislature.
Trade Secrets or intellectual property or information held in commercial confidence.
Information obtained in fiduciary relationship.
Information which would endanger life or physical safety of any person or identity of the sources etc.
Information which would impede investigation or prosecution or apprehension of criminals.
Personal information having no relationship to public activity or unwarranted invasion of privacy.
Protection of copyright.
Primacy of public interest as per section 8 (2)
Certain organisations exempted from operation of RTI Act
Research and Analysis Wing of the Cabinet Secretariat.
Directorate of Revenue Intelligence.
Central Economic Intelligence Bureau.
Directorate of Enforcement.
Narcotics Control Bureau.
Aviation Research Centre.
Special Frontier Force.
Appeal to be filed within 30 days against decision of CPIO
Appeal to be disposed of within 30 days, extendable to 45 days for special reasons
Second Appeal to be filed before CIC within 90 days from the date of decision of First Appellate Authority
Decision of CIC shall be binding
Penalties Section 20 of RTI Act provides for penalties against CPIOs on their refusal to receive an application or inability to furnish information within a specified time-frame or malafidely giving incorrect, incomplete or misleading information or destroying information.
Penalty of Rs.250 per day – total amount not exceeding Rs.25,000/-.
Opportunity to be given to CPIO before imposition of penalty.
CIC can also recommend disciplinary action against CPIO