In this blogpost, Sreeraj.K.V, Student, Government Law College, Kerala, writes an article about Analysis on the Right to Information Act, 2005. This article covers some of the areas like importance of the Act, process for filing an RTI under the Act, Exceptions in filing an RTI as well as various requirements for filing an RTI in India.

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Right to Information Act, 2005 was one of the biggest achievements by the Legislature as a contribution to the common people of India and it gave a new phase to the law enforcement machinery that public can also take part in enforcing various legal rights for them. Until then there was only erstwhile freedom of information Act, 2002. And the Act was replaced by the enactment of the Right to Information Act, 2005. The Act states that any citizen may request a public authority (a body of Government or “instrumentality of State”) which is required to reply expeditiously or within 30 days. The Act also requires every Public sector company to computerise their records for wide dissemination so that citizens require only less time for receiving certain information formally.[1]

The importance of this Act in the present social scenario is that the working of various public and other companies was in such a way that common people were unaware of what actually is done in such public organisations.  Due to the increase of various needs of the people from such public enterprises and also lack of proper facilities for addressing such people, they faced many difficulties such as delay in completing various documentation works in favour of the people, lack of participation on the part of government officials in meeting the needs of the people etc. In such a scenario, Right to Information Act plays a vital role as it makes it mandatory that any queries filed under this Act by any person, must be replied as soon as possible or within a period of thirty days. But in fact the Act is applicable only to public enterprises and companies working under the concerned State Governments. The Act, as such does not have provisions to make private companies under its ambit, but private companies and NGO’s who receive over 95% of their infrastructure fund from the Government comes under the provisions of the Act.

While looking in detail, Chapter I of the Act deals with various definitions that are being covered under the Act. Definitions as to what is meant by ‘information’, ‘right to information’, ‘competent authority’ etc. and chapter II deals with the obligation of public authorities against the maintenance of proper books of records in their concerned areas of operation and also various procedures regarding the request for information under the Act. The Act also provides certain exceptions towards the disclosure of any information by any public organisation which may likely affect:

  • The sovereignty and integrity of the nation.
  • Information that has been expressly forbidden to be published in any court of law or tribunal or such disclosure which may result in contempt of court.
  • Information which may likely causes breach of privilege of the Parliament or State legislature
  • Information which includes commercial confidence, trade secrets or intellectual property which may likely to cause harm to a third party unless the competent authority is satisfied that there is no larger public interest in the matter.
  • Information available to a person in his fiduciary relationship
  • Information received from a foreign Government
  • Information which may likely to cause harm to the life of any other person
  • Information which would impede the process of investigation, apprehension or prosecution of any offenders.
  • Cabinet records and other papers including deliberations of the council of Ministers, Secretaries and other officers. [2]

Now it’s clear regarding the functions and provisions of the Act. The Act provides an opportunity for the public to make a query regarding the functioning or operation of any public organisation except in the above-stated exceptions.

Process under the Act

The Act states that any person may submit a written request to a Public Information Officer (PIO) which is appointed by various authorities under the Act. It is his duty to provide various information to the citizens. The application should include person’s name, details for contact etc. in the application. It is then the PIO of the concerned organisation must reply to the application. In the absence of such officers, the applicant has an option to file the application under either of the Central or State Information Commission.

Act also specifies certain time limits for the reply towards the request:

  1. If the RTI is filed to the PIO, then the reply has to be made within 30 days
  2. If the RTI is filed to the APIO (Assistant Public Information Officer), then the reply should be within 35 days
  3. If the PIO transfers the application to another public authority, then the time limit extends to 30 days from the day in which the application was transferred.
  4. Any information regarding Human rights violation and corruption by any scheduled security agencies coming under schedule II of the Act must be provided within 45 days but with the prior approval of the Central Information Commission
  5. The PIO is expected to provide information which may involve the right to life and liberty of any person. [3]

Information Technology has been developed in such a way that each and everything a person needs will be available in a single click. Same is applicable in the case of filing an RTI also. A person does not need to write in paper or go to the concerned authorities for filing the application. Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) has started a project on filing the RTI application through online. The website provided by the Government for filing an online RTI application is https://rtionline.gov.in/ . Any person can file an RTI on any concerned matters simply by creating a user account of his own. It requires only Rs.10 for filing the application. Immediately after the filing of the application, the applicant will receive a unique registration number for using it for future references. Initially this facility was available only in Delhi but now a person from any State can file an e-RTI application whenever he/she feels it is important.

Essential requirements for filing an RTI  

  • Applicant must be a citizen of India
  • Application should contain particulars regarding the information
  • The evidence of payment of application fee must be enclosed
  • Full address of the applicant should be enclosed for sending the reply.[4]

Conclusion

The main object of this Act is to empower the rights of citizens to make certain queries on the functioning of the Government machineries, to promote transparency and efficiency in the operations of such Government organisations, to regulate corruption and also to make democracy to work in favour of our citizens. The Act prevents the Government from being manipulated in the sense that it makes a notion that the Government and its concerned wings are working for the public at large. It also makes a sense that no people must be unaware of their basic rights as the citizens of this country and the Act also makes it mandatory that the information which is given to the applicants must be true to the best of the knowledge of the concerned officials and any type of manipulations done against the provisions of the Act will lead to certain penal liabilities upon the person who violates it.

[1] Retrieved on : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right_to_Information_Act,_2005

[2] Retrieved on : http://righttoinformation.gov.in/rti-act.pdf

[3] Retrieved on: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right_to_Information_Act,_2005

[4] Retrieved on : http://www.rtifoundationofindia.com/how-file-rti-application-1086

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3 COMMENTS

  1. RTI ACT, 2005:

    SORRY TO STATE THAT THE WRITER HAS NOT MENTIONED/GUIDED HOW TO REMIT THE FEES OF Rs.10/- ON-LINE COMPLAINT, UNLESS THE APPLICANTS SHOULD KNOW THE BANK A/C NO, IEC CODE NO. etc.

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