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RTI Act 2005- An Overview

CA Prashant Gupta 
on 05 May 2010

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RTI Act 2005- An Overview

 

Freedom of information is a fundamental human right and… the touchstone of all the freedoms to which the United Nations (UN) is consecrated.

Resolution 59(1) adopted by United Nations General Assembly in its first session in 1946.

 

Article 19(1)(a)of the Constitution of India guarantees to all its citizens the ‘Fundamental Right’ to ‘Freedom of Speech and Expression’.

 

For achieve these fundamental rights Parliament of India passed Right to Information Act 2005. It got consent of President of India on 15th June 2005. The Act provides for setting out the practical regime of right to information for citizens to secure access to information held by public authorities to promote transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority.

 

  • The ‘RTI Act, 2005’ extends to the whole of India except the State of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • The Act has 6 Chapters and 2 Schedules
  • The Act has 31 Sections

 

Sec 2(j) "right to information" means the right to information accessible under this 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 or 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 device;

 

Sec( i) "record" includes—

(a) any document, manuscript and file;

(b) any microfilm, microfiche and facsimile copy of a document;

(c) any reproduction of image or images embodied in such microfilm (whether enlarged or not); and

(d) any other material produced by a computer or any other device;

 

When we study both section then we can say a citizen can check documents, files, records of a government authority.  Even he/she can take notes, extracts or copies of these records. Government has applied minor fees for copies that is different state to state. In case of Pyare Lal Verma v.Ministry of Railways Central information commission decided that file noting are also part of files. So a citizen can demand file noting also for checking purpose.

 

Procedure for obtaining information

 

  • Application should be send to PIO (Public Information Officer) in writing or electronically with prescribed fee. If a person is unable to make a request in writing, the PIO shall render all reasonable assistance to the person making the request orally to reduce the same in writing

·        PIO will provide required information within 30 days; if information is such in which life or liberty is involved then time is 48 hours; if application is received by APIO then 35 days; if third party information is required then 40 days; if information is about intelligence agencies for corruption or human right violations then 45 days.

·        PIO will reject the application if information required comes u/s 8 & 9 which deals with information regarding confidential information.

  • If no information is received within time limit then it is deemed the request is refused by PIO.  If a person does not receive a decision within the time limit (mentioned above) or is not satisfied by a decision of the PIO then he can appeal to First Appealet Authority (which is officer senior in rank to the PIO or concerned Public Authority) within thirty days from the expiry of such period or from the receipt of such decision

·        If person is not satisfied with the order of FAA then he can apply to State or Central Information commission in 90 days from the date on which he received the decision.

 

If PIO is found guilty for below mentioned points then he can be fined Rs. 250/- per day upto maximum 25000/-

Not accepting an application

Delaying information release without reasonable cause

Malafidely denying information

Knowingly giving incomplete, incorrect or misleading information

Destroying information

 

A grassroots organisation called the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS) took an initiative to lead the people in - Bhim Tehsil – a very backward region of Rajasthan to assert their right to information.

It started by asking for copies of bills and vouchers and names of persons who have been shown in the muster rolls. MKSS succeeded in, thus, getting photocopies of certain relevant documents MKSS organized several public hearings (jan sunwais) to discuss the findings pertaining to various issues known from the said documents. People’s anger made one engineer of the State Electricity Board to return, in public, an amount of Rs.15,000 that he had extracted from a poor farmer.

 

This is the act by which we can check whether a public authority is working properly or not.  So use this weapon against corruption.




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