The Real ‘Swaraj’ will come not by the acquisition of authority by a few but by the acquisition of capacity by all to resist authority when abused.–Mahatma Gandhi
"I believe that the passage of this Bill will see the dawn of a new era in our processes of governance, an era of performance and efficiency, an era which will ensure that benefits of growth flow to all sections of our people, an era which will eliminate the scourge of corruption, an era which will bring the common mans concern to the heart of all processes of governance, an era which will truly fulfill the hopes of the founding fathers of our Republic” ◦ Speech in Parliament on May 11, 2005- Dr. Manmohan Singh Prime Minister of India
What is Right to Information?• The Right to Information is a fundamental right under the Constitution of India • Asking for and being given information as a matter of right is called “Right to Information” Information• Information is necessary for protection of the right to life and liberty. It is therefore a part of Article 21• Information is necessary to form and express opinions, dissent or support on any matter. It is therefore a part of Article 19 (1)(a)
The Indian Bureaucracy has inherited administrative culture of secrecy as a colonial and feudal legacy. Secrecy has been the most common culture of bureaucratic culture.• The official Secrets Act, 1923• Section 123 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, provides that the head of the department can refuse to part with an information.• Rule 11 of the Central Services(Conduct) Rules, 1964 prohibits a government servant to part with any official document.• Rule 9 of the All India Services(Conduct) Rules, 1968 prohibits any communication of Information
Global Scenario Sweden –1776 UN Assembly Resolution, 1948 People’s right to have access to official information –– Freedom of Information as Fundamental Human Right USA Act, 1966 -amended after ‘Watergate’ 56 Countries have already enacted the Right to Information (North America, Most of Europe, Australia, Columbia, Peru, Japan)
Initiative of Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangthan• Assertion of RTI by asking for copies of bills, vouchers and names persons shown in the muster rolls.• Purpose of preventing misappropriation of funds.• MKSS succeeded in getting photocopies of relevant documentsrevealing 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 andTransparent 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.
Union of India v. Association for Democratic Reforms (2002) 5 SCC 294- “the court recognized the citizen’s fundamental right to information and even went to the extend saying that such a right should be recognized and fully effectuated”
Onkar Lal Bajaj v. Union of India(2003) 2 SCC 673- “ Articles 21 & 14-right to information-allotment of retail outlets, distributorships and dealerships of petroleum products-political patronage for allotment was alleged by the press-Under such circumstances, the public in general has a right to know under what basis their elected representatives got such allotments.”
Provides a legal framework of citizens’ democratic right to access to information under the control of public authorities; To promote transparency and accountability in the functioning of every public authority
Long Title of the Act An Act to provide for setting out the practical regime ofright to information for citizens to secure access toinformation under the control of public authorities, inorder to promote transparency and accountability in theworking of every public authority, the constitution of aCentral Information Commission and State InformationCommissions and for matters connected therewith orincidental thereto.
Preamble to the Act What does it say ?● Informed citizenry and transparency of information are vital to the functioning of our democratic republic● to contain corruption● to hold Government and their instrumentalities accountable to the governed.
Covers all of India except Jammu and Kashmir. Covers central, state and local governments, and all bodies owned, controlled or substantially financed; non-government organisation substantially financed, directly or indirectly by funds provided by the appropriate Government (2(h)) Covers executive, judiciary and legislature (2(e) Includes information relating to private body which can be accessed by under any other law for the time being in force (2(f))
Because it helps to: ◦ Promote openness, transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority. ◦ Reduce Corruption ◦ Prevent administrative arbitrariness ◦ Bride the gap between providers and recipient of public services ◦ Make citizens part of decision making ◦ Make administrative responsive ◦ Strengthen the foundations of democracy
Definition of Right to Information [Section2(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 - i) Inspection of work, documents, records ii) Taking notes, extracts or certified copies of documents of records; iii) Taking certified samples of material; iv) 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
Definition of Information [Section 2(f)] Any material in any form, including -• Records,• Documents,• Memos,• E-mails,• Opinions,• Advices,• Press Releases,• Circulars,• 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 the time being in force.
“Public Authority” means any authority or body or institution established or constitutedBy or under the constitution;By any other law made by Parliament;By any other law made by State Legislature;By notification issued or order made by the appropriateGovernment and includes any i) body owned, controlled or substantially financed, ii) non - Government organization substantiallyfinanced directly or indirectly by funds provided by theappropriate Government;
[Sec. 6 & 7] Application Process Apply in person or request in English or electronically local official language Time limit for giving 30 days information If information concerns must be given within life and liberty of a 48 hrs person If information is given by add 10 extra days third party then invite objections if any No action on application deemed refusal for 30 days (Reasons for seeking information shall not be asked)
DISPOSAL OF REQUESTS: TIME-FRAMEIn 30 days if direct to PIOIn 35 days if through APIOIn 48 hours if life & liberty at stakeIf redirected, in 5 daysIf not given in time, deemed refusedIf further fees required, period between dispatch of request and deposit of fees will not count
PIO provides information to anyone requesting for itAPIO receives applications and forwards them to PIO
Functions of PIODeal with requests for informationOffer reasonable assistance to applicantProvide access-enabling assistance to sensorily disabledSeek assistance from any other officer as considered necessaryFor the purpose of contravention of this act, such other officer will be treated as PIO.
REQUESTS FOR INFORMATIONWill be made to PIOTo be in writing/ electronic means (if it can’t be in writing, PIO will assist to reduce oral request to writing)In Hindi, English, Official language of the areaAccompanied by prescribed feeNo reason requiredNo personal details required except for contactingTo be transferred to another public authority if pertains to them (in 5 days) applicant to be informed
[Sec. 6, 7] Fees payable Must be reasonable. No fees for Below Poverty Line applicant Application fees prescribed by appropriate Govt. (Rs.50/-) Cost of giving information may be charged on the requestor (Details of fees and how the figure was arrived at must be given in writing) Rs. 2/- per page; Rs. 50/- per floppy, others and samples - actual cost; inspection – 1st hour free, Rs. 5/ - every subsequent 15min Requestor may seek review of the fees from the Appellate Authority if it is unreasonable Time between date of dispatch of intimation about fees and actual payment excluded while calculating 30 day time limit If information is not given within time limit it must be given free of cost
(a) National security(b) Contempt of court(c) Parliamentary privilege(d) Trade secrecy(e) Fiduciary relationship(f) Foreign government(g) Safety of informer in law enforcement(h) Investigation(i) Cabinet papers(j) Privacy(K) Copyright - disclosure which would involve an infringement of copyright subsisting in a person other than the State may be rejected. [Section 9]
Who is not covered? [Sec. 24(1) and Schedule 2]• IB & RAW and any other intelligence• Directorate of Revenue or security organisation Intelligence established by State govts.• Central Economic Intelligence Bureau• Directorate of Enforcement Matters relating to corruption and human• Narcotics Control Bureau rights violations covered• Aviation Research Centre by law must be given• Special Frontier Force Information can be given• CRPF, ITBP, CISF, NSG only if concerned IC• Special Service Bureau approves Time limit – 45 days• Assam Rifles• Special Branch (CID) Andaman and Nicobar• Crime Branch (CID) Dadra and Nagar Haveli• Special Branch Lakshadweep Police
Central InformationCommission Commissioner (5 yr term) and max. 1 Chief Information 10 Information Commissioners (ICs) ( one 5 yr term) Central Information Commission to be based in Delhi Chief Information Commissioner to be in Delhi but ICs could be based in other parts Commission will be independent of Govt. control CIC and ICs to be appointed by President with immediate effect Names recommended by committee - PM (Chair), Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha and 1 Cabinet Minister nominated by PM
State Information Commission 1 State Chief Information Commissioner (5 yr term) and max. 10 State Information Commissioners (SICs) (one 5 yr term) State Information Commission could be in any part of the State – to be decided by the States Commission will be independent of State Govt. control SCIC and SICs to be appointed by Governor with immediate effect Names recommended by committee - CM (Chair), Leader of Opposition in the Vidhan Sabha and 1 Cabinet Minister nominated by CM Similar powers and functions as Central Information Commission
Appellate Authority (AA) [Sec. 12-19] First Appeal (Internal) The officer senior in rank to the PIO in the concerned public authority (Within 30 days from the date of refusal letter but delay may be condoned if sufficient cause is shown) Time limit = 30 days
Appellate Authority (AA) [Sec. 12-19] Second appeal (External) to Central/State Information Commission (within 90 days from the date of decision of first AA but delay may be condoned if sufficient cause is shown) No time limit for CIC/SIC to decide on appealsDecision of CIC/SIC Burden of proof lies on PIOis binding for justifying denial of informationAppeal against IC’s decision can be filed in HighCourts/Supreme Court, not lower courts
Penalty Provisions [Sec. 20-21] IC can penalise PIO Rs. 250/- per day up to a maximum of Rs. 25,000/- for - • Refusal to receive application Without • Not furnishing information reasonable within time limit cause • Malafidely denying information • Knowingly giving incorrect, incomplete, misleading For persistent information violation of the law IC can recommend • Destroying information which disciplinary action was the subject of request • Obstructing furnishing of information in any manner
1 Greater Transparency: With a view to ensuring maximum disclosure of information regarding government rules, regulations and decisions, every public authority is mandated to maintain all its records. This has increased the interaction between the public authorities and the society. 32
2. Citizen-Centric Approach to Development: Now Govt. has shifted to citizen centric approach of development. Now the Government is aware of this fact that the citizens can ask for any type of information and now the approach is concerned with the development of the country. 33
3. Democratization of information and knowledge: Information and knowledge regarding the activities of the government is easily available now. The Govt. is easily assessable. 34
4. Reduction in Corruption: Lack of transparency and accountability encourage the government officials to indulge in corrupt practices, which result in lower investments due to mis- use or diversion of funds for private purposes. But RTI Act has reduced corruption to a great deal because Govt. is aware of the fact that now it can be asked for any type of information so it needs to be cautious. 35
5. Greater Accountability: It means that the Govt. is required or expected to justify actions or decisions which it is taking. If anyone isn’t getting the benefits which come under the Govt. policies then he/she can make use of RTI Act. 36
1. In Ghara Katara village of Shankar Garh block in Allahabad, daily wagers had a tough time arranging a proper meal as they were not receiving rations on their cards. On December 19, 2006, some 21 villagers prepared RTI applications and questioned the administration. The very next day all the ration card holders got their rations.
2.The Act is influencing people to come forward and question the progress on various welfare schemes, creating a positive change in the most backward areas like Eastern UP, Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh , Karnataka , Assam and in Maharashtra. For e.g. Laborer employment programs initiated in UP and Bihar.
3.Even the most backward sections of rural societies are seeking information related to Prime Ministers Employment Scheme, Indira Awaas Yojna, ration card, midday meal, uniform distribution in the schools and the conditions of village roads.
Adarsh Society Scam Public Distribution Scam in Assam Appropriation of Relief Funds IIM’s Admission Criteria
The largest democratic nation, India has survived allvicissitudes, turbulences of all kinds over the last half centuryand more.In that context, the bringing into being of the RTI has been animportant milestone. The Act that came into being last yearassures every citizen the right to know what the citizen should,and throws open the system of governance to totaltransparency and therefore inescapable accountability. Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam Inaugural Address at the National Convention on RTI 13-10-2006: New Delhi