Contemporary Legal issues: Right to information

India always took pride in being the largest democracy, but with the passing of the Right to Information Act in 2005, it has also become an accountable, interactive and participatory democracy. This right has catapulted the Indian citizen on a pedestal from where he can take stock of administrative decisions and actions and make sure that his interests are protected and promoted by the Government. The Right to Information Act is an important landmark for Indian democracy. By this Act the citizen of India has been empowered like never before. He can now question, audit, review, examine, and assess government acts and decisions to ensure that these are consistent with the principles of public interests, good governance and justice. This act promotes transparency and accountability in administration by making the government more open to public scrutiny.

The basic object of the Right to Information Act is to empower the citizens,promote transparency and accountability in the working of the Government,contain corruption, and make our democracy work for the people in real sense.It goes without saying that an informed citizen is better equipped to keep necessary vigil on the instruments of governance and make the government more accountable to the governed.The Act is a big step towards making the citizens informed about the activities of the Government.
All the Public Authority designat Public Information Officer (PIO) and Appellate Authority (AA) for citizens to secure access to information and published the Proactive Disclosures in accordance with the provisions of the Act in October 2005.

Main provisions of RTI Act are:-

  • RTI Act states 3 Levels of authority – Public Information Officer, First Appellate Authority, Central Information Commission(CIC).
  • In normal course, information to an applicant shall be supplied within 30 days from the receipt of application by the public authority. If information sought concerns the life or liberty of a person, it shall be supplied within 48 hours. In case the application is sent through the Assistant Public Information Officer or it is sent to a wrong public authority, five days shall be added to the period of thirty days or 48 hours, as the case may be.
  • Time period for Public Information Officer : Expeditiously or within 30 days from the date of receipt by public authority.
  • Maximum time gap for 1st appeal : 30 days since limit of supply of information is expired.
  • Time period for Appellate Authority : Within 30 days or in exceptional cases 45 days from the date of receipt by public authority.
  • Maximum time gap for 2nd appeal : 90 days since limit of supply of information is expired.
  • RTI act also asks for computerization and proactively publish information.
  • Bodies applicable under RTI : Constitutional bodies at center and state ( Legislature, Executive, Judiciary), bodies/NGOs owned/financed by government, privatized public utility companies.
  • Bodies excluded under RTI : Central Intelligence and Security Agencies, agencies of state specified through notification. The exclusion is not absolute.
  • Central Information Commission shall consist of : 1 Chief Information Commissioner and upto 10 Central Information Commissioners.
  • The Chief Information Commissioner shall hold office for a term of five years from the date on which he enters upon his office and shall not be eligible for reappointment.