Right to Information RTI Act 2005 Summary

Right to Information RTI Act 2005 Summary

In 2004, the Union government appointed a National Advisory Council (NAC) to monitor implementation of government schemes and advise government on policy and law. NAC recommended changes to the existing Freedom of Information Act, 2002. Consequently, Right to Information bill 2004, was tabled in parliament on 23rd December 2004. This  as applicable only to the Union Government and there was strong protest from the civil society as most of the information required by the common man was from state governments. As a result, 150 amendments were incorporated in the bill and:

  • Bill was passed by Lok Sabha on 11th May 2005 and by Rajya Sabha on 12th May 2005.
  • Received assent of President of India on 15th June 2005,
  • Published in the Gazette of India on 21st June 2005.
  • Came into force with effect from 12th October 2005, and is known as Right to Information Act, 2005 (Act No. 22 of 2005, RTI Act 2005)

RTI Act

Right to Information Act 2005 mandates timely response to citizen requests for government information by various Public Authorities under the government of India as well as the State Governments.

Objectives of RTI Act

RTI Act is an act to provide for setting out the practical regime of right to information for citizens to secure access to information under the control of public authorities.  Its objectives are:

  • To empower citizens (as right to information is fundamental right of the citizens under Article 19),
  • Promote transparency and accountability in working of Government,
  • Prevention & Elimination of corruption
  • Transform the relationship between the citizen and government.

Under the RTI, every citizen is empowered to:

  1. Seek information / ask questions to the government
  2. Request for copies of government documents
  3. Inspect government documents and works
  4. Request for samples of materials of any government work

Significant Provisions of RTI Act

To summarise as follows:

  • Section 2(h): Public authorities means all authorities and bodies under the Constitution or any other law, and inter alia includes all authorities under the Central, state governments and local bodies. The civil societies substantially funded, directly or indirectly, by the public funds also fall within the ambit.
  • Section 4 1(b): Maintain and proactively disclose information.
  • Section 6: Prescribes simple procedure for securing information.
  • Section 7: Fixes time limit for providing information(s) by PIOs.
  • Section 8: Only minimum information exempted from disclosure.
  • Section 19: Two tier mechanism for appeal.
  • Section 20: Provides penalties in case of failure to provide information on time, incorrect, incomplete or misleading or distorted information.
  • Section 23: Lower courts are barred from entertaining suits or applications. However, the writ jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and high courts under Articles 32 and 225 of the Constitution remains unaffected.

Exemptions to RTI Act

Twenty-odd organisations are exempted from RTI. But all these entities are related to the country’s defence and intelligence, such as RAW, BSF, CRPF, CISF, Intelligence Burearu, National Security Guard etc.

Further, 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.
  • 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.

However, RTI law says that any information which cannot be denied to a Member of Parliament or state legislature cannot be denied to any citizen.

Points to Note:

  • Public Information Officers
    • The Public Information Officers are the link between the information seeker and the Public Authority.
    • They are responsible for receiving applications and then give an appropriate reply to the applicants as per the provisions of the Right to information Act.
  • Only citizens of India have the right to seek information under the provisions of RTI Act, 2005.

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