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What Is Right To Information

Right to information is an act enacted by the parliament of India in 15 June, 2005. it replace the former act which is known as freedom of information act 2002. in FOIA 2002, The government do some modification with this act then, commence a body on 12 oct, 2005 for making the RTI act 2005.

In the provision of RTI act 2005, any citizen of India may request any information from a government authorities and in the provision it also talk about the time of reply from the public authority. When a RTI file, the government has to reply within 30 days and the citizen also have right to asked for information of work, sample of the work, documents related to work, records, certified copies of any work which is held by public authority or control by public authority. the RTI act 2005, also asked public authority to computerizing all their records so that citizens have not to file a RTI application for any small information and its reduced in the number of application. This also help in the promoting transparency in the government and maintain a flow in the system.

RTI act 2005, aims that to provide a efficient method of providing information so that we can effectively use the right under Art 19(1) of the constitution of India which told every citizen of India have freedom to speech and expression.

RTI act 2005, also gives expression of method of enforcing the freedom of expression and method then we should know what my government function in my favour or against then we have very important part, every people of country living with choice of dignity according to the art 21 of the constitution. The living of life with dignity come form Menaka Gandhi case and for running a suitable democracy these two essential is important which indirectly connect with RTI Act 2005. Under the RTI act there are some restriction also in the information given by the public authority as per the Official Secrets Act and other various law and the RTI act also by the time codifies as the fundamental right of the citizen of India.

Historical Background Of Right To Information

First time this act come into origin from Sweden in 1776, In 1776 Sweden government passed a convention of granting right to information act and by this Sweden wants to achieve the minimizing level of corruption in the country and made the government transparent and they successful achieve this target by RTI and they increases the transparency in their government agencies and by this convention Sweden top the transparency international index.

Same as Sweden, The united assembly also make a bill on RTI in 1948 to declare that freedom of information is a fundamental right and also this law already passed by 56 countries.
The supreme court of India also gave the direction to apply the art 19 of the constitution which have told that freedom of speech and expression are the fundamental right and no one is deprive from them. The RTI act can not be fully functional without the information come under the ambit of right to freedom and expression.

First campaign of RTI was introduced by Sakti Mazdoor Sangthan of Rajasthan in 1990 which was lead by Smt.Aruna Roy, and also the division commissioner of Bilaspur introduced a movement in 1996 by opening the register of employment exchange and record the public distribution system of the people.

In 1997, Tamil nadu becomes the first state in India to have passed a law on RTI, also the Madhya Pradesh government issued order to the department to implement RTI which later jointed by large number of people, under the chairmanship of HD Shorie, appointed by the united front government and the act drafted by FOI, 1997.

Goa legislature also passed a law on RTI. The M P government presented a law on RTI, which was passed by both the houses but the bill still did not becomes a law because the governor of the Madhya Pradesh did not give his assent and when in 1998 the NDA government come in power the PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee ensured the people that RTI will be enacted soon in the country.

Again in 1999, A PIL was filled in the supreme court of India to lift the restrain which is enacted on the minister and declare sec 5 of Official Secret Act,1923 unconstitutional, and asked the government to give proper instruction for RTI for pending legislation and a order passed on making transparency in the urban affair ministry by the union minister in 1999. In 2002, a report by select committee submitted to the government and the bill is passed by both the houses of the parliament in December 2002 and finally the bill also found the assent from president of India on 6 January 2003 and becomes a law and known as freedom of information act 2002 act 2002 no. 5 of 2003.

UPA government presented the RTI bill in 2004, which is only applicable to the central government and not to the state government, with this point many civil people are not happy with this decision because most of the information required from the state government and this bill is only limit to central, the people did not get proper benefit of it and finally after the heavy lobbying by the organization with 150 amendments this bill are also applicable to the state.

Finally this law published in gazette of India and come into force with effect from 12 oct,2005. [1]

Features Of Right To Information

Eligibility:
 the information seeker be must an Indian citizen and need to state their name and address.
Fee:
10 rupees, free for below poverty line categories

Mode of Payment:
DD, postal order, cash, online and The applicant may also be required to pay further fee towards the cost of providing the information.
  • All such information which can not be denied to MP/MLAs shall also not be denied to applicant of RTI.
  • Information may be asked in any medium and any forms.

Time Limit:
within 30 days of RTI filling, but if the information sought concern the life or liberty of a person within 48 hours of the information has to given.
  • Only such information can be supplied under this act which is already exist and held by the public authority or under the control of public authority. The information officer is not supposed to create information.
  • RTI act shall override the Official Secret Act 1923 in case of any clash.

Exempted information:
In RTI act the sec 8 (1) talked about which information are exempted under RTI act information related to national security, strategic matter of the state, foreign relation, incitement to offence, contempt of court, commercial interest, trade secret, third party personal information, IPR, information related to physical satisfy and life of any one, cabinet papers. And in sec 8(2) says above information can be disclosed if public interest in disclosure overweight the harm of protected interest.

How Right To Information Works

Citizen who wants to any information from the public authority could file a RTI application and asked for information in writing. The application goes to CPIO office and CPIO officer receive the request and examine the application, after examine the application he has two option if the information are available then provide within 30 days and if the information is not available or exempted as per sec 8(1) then he reject to give the information and give proper reasons for rejecting it and also giving the details of appellate authority.

Form here, the citizen have two option to stop here or go further to appellate authority for the information and if citizen appeal to appellate authority then he also examine the information. here the appellate authority have authority to give the information or not on the basis of sec 8(1) of the official secret act. if the information are not given by the appellate authority then citizen have option to satisfied from them or appeal to the final authority known as CICs and like a judge he heared both parties and give the final judgment whether the information given or not.

Controversies On Right To Information

In India there are many controversies on the RTI act for use of the RTI for asking the educational degrees of political peoples and the refusal to provide information on the big cases which is on high profile people and allegation to misuse by the civil society. For asking information on the big politician or high profile people there are many times a RTI activists attacked.

Attack on RTI activists and Protection suggestion:
According to the data of commonwealth human right initiative data they are lum sum 300 cases across the India where people attacked, murdered, physically or mentally harassed because they asked some information under the RTI act The data also shows that over 50 of them murdered and 2 suicides are directly linked by the RTI application.

There should need a amend on RTI act to provide the protection of those who seeking information under RTI act.

Protection Measures Suggestion included:
  • On threats or attack on any RTI activists immediate action should be take by filing a FIR and placing the FIR before the magistrate within 24 hours for issuance of direction of protection of those who under threat or attack and also their family member and regular review on such protection.
     
  • Conducting an enquiry on this FIR should be by a police officer which is not below the rank of DSP/ACP and the case concluded within 90 days.

Rejection of RTI

The RTI act originally intent to made transparency in the government policies and also made government more accountable to the people but there are many faltering in the government system as they reject the RTI application and the bureaucratic system bogged down the million of request under RTI act. Many RTI rejected because of bureaucratic requirement includes the technocratic languages are too legalistic for the ordinary people because they do not understand them.

Only in Delhi the information commissioner rejecting the 60% the RTI application and giving the reason behind them includes the application are hand written they do not understand them, application are not in typed form, not written in English or lack of papers attached to application and many more.

This bureaucratic barrier, worsen for those people who not well educated and they are simply deprived from there right because they are not abled to write the application in proper manner so they do not access the information which they needed from the government. this is clearly failure in a democratic government where the people can not access information because they are illiterate, some people also goes to, take help from the NGOs, RTI activists, or lawyer for filing their RTI application.

In RTI act there is clearly mention that the information could be asked by a people in any language and the public authority have to provide the information but here are something other rule is added in by the people who is in system they simply rejected the application because they do not understand it, application not written in proper legalistic languages, by their thinking if you want the information firstly you should be well educated. Government should looked these kind of worked by their officer and should correct them otherwise a ordinary people are not get their fundamental of right to know.

Right To Information (Amendment ) Bill 2019

The amendment bill 2019,amend sec 13 and sec 16 of the RTI act 2005.
  • In section 13 of the original act set the term of the central chief commissioner and the information commissioner at five year or until the age of 65, which ever is first. the amendment proposes that the appointment will be for such term as may be prescribed by the central government.
  • Again section 13 state that the salaries, allowances, and other term of services of the chief information commissioner shall be the same as that of the chief election commissioner and An information commissioner shall be same as the election commissioner. Amendment proposes that the salaries, allowances, and other term of the services of CIC and IC shall be such as may be prescribed by central government.
  • In section 16 of the original act deal with state level CICs and ICs it set the term of state level CICs and ICs at five year or 65 year of age which is complete first.
  • The amendment proposes that these appointment should be for such term as may be prescribed by the central government and while the original act prescribes the salaries, allowances, and other term of the services of the state CICs as the same as that the chief secretary of the state government shall be such as may be prescribed by the central government
  • The amendment bill also remove the provision that when appointment take place, if the CIC and IC are receiving any benefit or pension from the union government, their salaries will be reduced by an amount which is equal to the pension.

Conclusion
The RTI act 2005, is a route taken by the government of India to setting a foundation of democracy in the country. In a democratic people have right to know how government are working, whether the government work for better or not, whether government tell actually amount to people or not in a public construction, for all this answer government come RTI act, if any people have any doubt in any of the policies, bills, documents which is held by a public authority they can asked it by simply file an RTI application.

The RTI act promote a good governance in the country by making transparency in the government. we can also say that RTI act 2005 is a tool to check corruption in the country and ensure the accountability of various government bodies, This also prevent the arbitrary action to the government, which is the most important for ensuring a democracy in the country. RTI provide a essential road map that how a citizen of India can access any information form the government of India which turn to promote a good governance. This act itself state that the most important part of the democratic government is to shared information from the people of the country.

Bibliography
  • Explainer: The right to information ( amendment ) bill 2019, PRS India, 19 july 2019. retrieved on 19 dec 2020.
  • Noronka, Fredrick (2010),access to knowledge: a guide for everyone consumer international.
  • PTI political parties under RTI : congress reject CIC order, the hindu newspaper, retrieved 20 dec 2020.
  • Sharma, nidhi ( 6 oct 2016 ) 1.75 cr RTI application filled since 2005 : study, the economics times of India, retrieved 20 dec 2020.
  • The gazette of India, 2,24 (2019 ), http://www.egazatte.nic.in, the government of India -209629_pdf.
End-Notes:
  1. Indian kanoon, http://Indiankanoon.org. ( last visited on 18 dec, 2020 )

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