What is RTI Act 2005?
Popularly known as Right to Information Act, Right to information is a fundamental right under article 19(a) of our constitution. The article 19(1)(a) explains that every citizen has the freedom of speech and expression. In the Preamble to the Constitution of India the people of India declared their solemn resolve to secure to all its citizens liberty of thought and expression. The Supreme Court of India held that the freedom of speech and expression includes freedom to propagate ideas . It was passed on 11th May 2005 in Lok Sabha and on 12th May of Rajya Sabha by the UPA Government. Further, the assent of the President of India was received on 15th June 2005. Just after 120 days, the Right to Information Act came into force on 12th October 2005.The Right to Information Act 2005 empowers every citizen who is willing to seek information from the government. A citizen can inspect any government document and also seek certified photocopies of the same. Now, let’s understand what is the meaning of ‘Information’ according to the Right to Information Act 2005 According to Right to Information Act, ‘information’ is a material in any form including memos, email, records, documents, press release, opinion, advice, circulars, orders logbook, reports, contracts, paper, samples, models, data material held in any electronic form.
Why was the Right to Information Act 2005 enacted?
Democracy requires an informed citizen and transparency of information which are vital to its functioning and also to contain corruption and to hold governments and their instrumentalities accountable to the governed, says the preamble of the Indian Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005.
Objectives of Right to Information Act 2005:
- To offer a legal framework of citizens to access information.
- To promote accountability of every public authority, thereby reducing corruption.
- To harmonise conflicting interest and prioritise operations of government, and use of resources.
- To preserve the ideals of democracy.
Salient features of RTI Act 2005:
- The RTI Act empowers citizens to inspect government documents, government works and ask any information from the government.
- You can seek information from any government, be it the State or Central government, from panchayati raj and any other organization owned, controlled and financed by the State or Central government.
- At Least one officer has been designated as a public information officer (PIOs) and it accepts the request forms and offers information sought by the public.
- In every district/divisional level, there are assistant public information officers who receive requests for information and then further appeal against the decisions of the public information officers. They also send the requests to the appropriate authorities (Section 5(1)).
- Every person who seeks information must file an application through electronic means or in writing in Hindi or English language.
- In case, the request cannot be made in writing, the PIO would be rendering all the reasonable assistance to make the request orally for reducing the same in the writing (Section 6(1)).
- In case the applicant is deaf, blind or impaired, the public authority must offer assistance to allow access of all the important information (Section 7(4)).
- Besides the applicant’s contact details, the applicant isn’t required to give any reasons for requesting the information or any other personal details.
- In case PIO doesn’t furnish information timely, then the applicant can file a complaint against him.
- Any information that cannot be denied to the legislative assembly or parliament cannot be denied to a common man.
- If a PIO fails to furnish information asked under the Act, then PIO might be liable to pay off Rs. 250 per day for each delay. The information commission can also recommend disciplinary action against the concerned PIO as per (Section 20 (2)).
How to File an RTI Application?
There are simply three steps to file an RTI Application. Have a look: #Step 1: Writing an application specified with all the particulars of information. #Step 2: Submission of evidence of payment of application fee. #Step 3: Sending the application to the concerned Assistant Public Information/ Public Information Officer.
Essentials of RTI Application:
- Format of RTI Application: There is no as such prescribed format of application for seeking information. It can be made on a plain paper. But it must have the name and complete postal address of the applicant.
- Language of RTI Application: It can be made either in Hindi or English or any official area of that particular area.
- Fees charged: The fees required to file RTI is always reasonable and calculation details are disclosed to the applicant.
- 4. Timeline to be heard: Total duration is 30 days from the date of application to receive information.
Important judgments on RTI Act:
- Case name: Jiju Lukose v. State of Kerala
In this case, the petitioner had filed the case against the State of Kerala in spite of the FIR being registered; the petitioner received its copy only after 2 months. Till the time the petitioner could obtain a copy of the FIR, the petitioner along with his family members were in dark about the nature of the allegations put against the petitioner. Petitioner had further contended that in view of the Right to Information Act, 2005 all public officers were under obligation to put all information recorded in the public domain. He also claimed that FOR which is lodged is to be put on the website of the police station, so that anyone can assess the FIR including a person staying outside the country. Final Decision: The CIC held that FIR is a public document. It should not be disclosed to the citizens till investigation is completed. But it can be claimed by the informant and the accused as per legal provisions under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 as a matter of legal right. Courts claimed that the police authorities were obliged to provide for copy of the FIR on an application under the RTI Act.
- CBSE Vs. Aditya Bandopadhyay (2011) 8 SCC 497. An examinee under the RTI Act had asked the CBSE to inspect his evaluated answer books in a public examination and take certified copies of the same. However, the examining body CBSE had denied it claiming that it held the information in a fiduciary relationship. Hence, this s exempt under Section 8 (1) (e) of the RTI Act.
Final decision: In view of the foregoing, the order of the High Court directing the examining bodies to permit examinees to have inspection of their answer books is affirmed, subject to the clarifications regarding the scope of the RTI Act and the safeguards and conditions subject to which `information' should be furnished. The appeals are disposed of accordingly.
FAQs related to RTI Act 2005
Q1. What stands for ‘record’ under ‘RTI Act 2005’ Ans. RTI Act includes: (a) any microfilm, microfiche and facsimile copy of a document; (b) any document, manuscript and file; (c) any other material produced by a computer or any other device and (d) any reproduction of image or images embodied in such microfilm (whether enlarged or not); Q2. How can I make a fee to seek information under the RTI Act? Ans. Debit Card/Credit Card of Master/Visa, also internet banking through SBI. Q3. Do I get a RTI receipt? Ans. Yes, definitely! A unique registration number will be issued which can be easily referred by the applicant for the future reference. Q4. Is there any assistance available to the Applicant for filing an RTI application to seek information under RTI Act 2005? Ans. Yes, he/she can seek the help of the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) to write an application and the Central Public Information Officer must render reasonable assistance. Q5. Is there any scope of second appeal with RTI Act 2005? Ans. Definitely! If the First Appellate Authority is unable to pass an order on the appeal within the prescribed period or if the appellant doesn’t get satisfied with the order of the First Appellate Authority, then the applicant may prefer a second appeal with the Central Information Commission (CIC).The Second Appeal must be filed within 90 days from the date on which the First Appellate Authority decision was actually received by the Appellant or within ninety days after expiry of 45 days of filing of First Appeal in cases where no reply has been received