Right to information Act 2005 (with Quiz)

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Right to Information Act 2005 mandates timely response to citizen requests for government information. It empowers the citizens for quick search of information on the details of first Appellate Authorities, PIOs etc. amongst others, besides access to RTI related information/ disclosures published on the web by various Public Authorities under the government of India as well as the State Governments. The nodal office for the implementation of is Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT).

Objective of RTI

  • Empower the citizens to keep necessary vigil on the instruments of governance
  • Promote transparency and accountability in the working of the Government by containing corruption, and make our democracy work for the people in real sense.
  • Making the citizens informed about the activities of the Government.

Salient Features of RTI

  • Eligibility:
    • All citizens posses the right to information and they can make request for any information related with the following bodies:
    • Constitutional bodies at center and state (Legislature, Executive, Judiciary), bodies/NGOs owned/financed by government, privatized public utility companies.
    • Intelligence and Security Agencies are excluded from the purview; however, the exclusion is not absolute.
  • 3 Tier System– Public Information Officer (PIO), First Appellate Authority, State Information Commission (SIC).
    • Central Information Commission (CIC) does not have jurisdiction over a State Information Commission.
    • Any appeal against the SIC order can only filed in the High Court or Supreme Court.
  • Time Period:
    • Public Information Officer has to provide the information sought expeditiously within 30 days from the date of receipt by public authority.
    • The information sought has to be provided within 48 hours if it is related with someone’s life or liberty.
    • Appeal: 30 days since limit of supply of information is expired for first appeal and 90 days since limit of supply of information is expired for second appeal.
  • Proactive Dissemination:
    • RTI act also asks for computerization and proactively publish information.
  • Central Information Commissioner:
    • Central Information Commission includes 1 Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) and not more than 10 Information Commissioners (IC) who are appointed by the President of India on the basis of recommendation of select committee.
    • The Select Committee consists of the Prime Minister, Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha and a Union Cabinet Minister as nominated by the Prime Minister.
    • They hold office for 5 yrs or up to 65 yrs of age.
    • Commissioner and Information Commissioners shall be persons of eminence in public life with wide knowledge and experience in law, science and technology, social service, management, journalism, mass media or administration and governance.

  • State Information Commissioner:
    • State Information Commission includes 1 Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) and not more than 10 Information Commissioners (IC) who are appointed by the Government on the basis of recommendation of select committee.
    • The Select Committee consists of the Chief Minister, Leader of Opposition in the Assembly and a Cabinet Minister as nominated by the Chief Minister.
    • They hold office for 5 yrs or up to 65 yrs of age.
    • Commissioner and Information Commissioners shall be persons of eminence in public life with wide knowledge and experience in law, science and technology, social service, management, journalism, mass media or administration and governance.

Achievements

  • A tool for information gathering as well as activism
  • Enhanced accountability of public authority, it is in mind while using a pen
  • Helping for policy advocacy (undertrials numbers, etc) to better delivery of services
  • From mercy or discretionary activities to entitlement based

Implementation Challenges

The RTI Act 2005 has the following provisions among others:

  • Sec 6 (2): applicant not required to give reason for requesting the information 
  • Sec 4: Suo motu information at regular intervals so that public resort to use it minimum
  • Even exempted information can be provided if larger public interest is shown

However, there are certain provisions which are used for circumventing the Act:

  • Sec 7(9): information has to be given in the form asked unless it would disproportionately divert the resources of the public authority
  • Information can’t be given unnecessarily if it hinders the regular functioning of institutions (SC view)
  • Several walls of secrecy (Official Secrets Act 1923, etc)

Other challenges are:

  • Case filing for vested interests instead of genuine concerns or information requirement
  • No proper record keeping and management, therefore information distribution is time taking
  • Lack of training and motivation of PIOs
  • Long Pendency in most Information Commissions signals casual approach towards RTI
  • Lack of awareness and publicity to public especially in the rural areas
  • Many a times being used to blackmail the authority
  • Ensuring the safety of activists  
  • Judiciary and political parties don’t come under RTI which lead to distrust among the citizens
  • There is an allegation of political patronage in selection of Information Commissioners

Topic- Wise Quiz

 

Please fill your name (mandatory) and email id to start the Quiz.

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