A democratic government is of the people, for the people by the people.
People’s involvement in the governmental activities is an important aspect of
administration as the government is accountable only to the people. Therefore,
the people should be aware of what the government is doing and in what ways.
The Right to Information is an initiative for the people to find out about all
constitutional authorities, including the executive, legislature and judiciary
and any other body or institution established by legislation. The RTI Act was
passed in 2005 to provide the right to citizens to seek government related
information. The Government has set up various Public Information Officers,
Assistant Public Information Officers and State and Central Information
Commission to carry out this task. The citizens have the right to make any query
to the PIOs and if they have any grievances with regard to the procurement of
information, they can complain to the Commissions. Under Section 8 of the
Act, however, no information can be provided if the information sought affects
the sovereignty and integrity of the nation or affects foreign relations with
other countries or has been expressly forbidden by any court or tribunal, or
violates legislative privilege or privacy of any individual or has been obtained
in a fiduciary capacity.
The Act sought to override the provisions of the Official Secrets Act, 1889,
further amended in 1923, all under the British rule, that restricted the flow of
information relating to public authorities. The Act is applicable in all of
India, to the exclusion of Jammu and Kashmir, which has its own state law.
Any person desiring to obtain information has to make an application with the
prescribed fee to the concerned PIO and is not obligated to reveal any
information other than his contact. A time limit of 30 days is given for the
reply, and if no reply is received, the information is deemed refused. If
information is refused, the applicant can make an appeal to the Information
Statistics shows that a total of 9.17 lakh applications were made in the year
2016-17, a drop of 6.1% from 9.76 lakhs in 2015-16. Application made in the
Union Territories numbered 1.23 lakhs in 2016-17. Further, refusal of
application came down by 6.59% in the same year. A total of 26,267 application
were refused for reasons other than those under Section 8, 9 and 24. The
Ministry of Finance received the highest number of application numbering 1.51
lakhs. The PMO saw a rise of 13% more application, nearly 12,787.
The judiciary has played a major role in the upholding and interpretation of the
RTI Act. In the case of Secretary General Supreme Court of India v Subshash
Chandra Agarwal, the Delhi High Court held that the right to information
is not only sourced from the RTI Act, but from the fundamental right under
Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution itself. Some of the landmark cases of
1. Adesh Kumar v Union of India (2014): In this case, the
petitioner was denied information under the RTI Act by the PIO. The Delhi Court
had held that whether the information sought by an applicant was relevant or not
cannot be a ground for refusal to provide information since every citizen has
the right to information.
2. Harinder Dhingra Vs. Bar Associations, Rewari, Faridabad, Punchkula (2016):
In this case, the CIC ruled that the Bar Council is a statutory body and is
obligated to disclose information under the RTI Act.
3. Girish Ramchandra Deshpande vs. Central Information Commission &
Ors. (2012): The Supreme Court had held that details in the income tax
returns of a person are personal information and stand exempted from the purview
of this Act unless and until it is for the benefit of the larger public
4. Vishwas Bhamburkar v. PIO, Housing & Urban Development Corporation
Ltd. (2018): The CIC in this case held that the lack of Aadhar card was
not a ground for refusal of information when suspicion as to applicant’s
identity is unfounded.
5. Shahzad Singh v Department of Posts (2018): The CIC held
that the excuse of ‘missing files’ was not valid as such an excuse is a major
threat to transparency, accountability and a violation of the RTI Act. Any
controversial questions will not be answered by citing this excuse.
To conclude, the RTI Act provides every citizen with the right to information.
Public authorities work for the people and they must also be accountable to the
public. Any citizen can ask for information relating to any public authority
provided it does not fall under the list of exempted information.
 Section 18, Right to Information Act, 2005
 All Answers ltd, 'Indian Right to Information Act' (Lawteacher.net, August
2018) accessed 15 August 2018
 Section 22, supra
 Section 6(1), supra
 Section 6(2), supra
 Section 7, supra
 Section 19, supra
(last accessed 15 August 2018)
 AIR 2010 Del 159
 W.P.(C) No.3543/2014
 CIC/SA/A/2015/001262, 1263, 1264, 1265
 SLP (Civil) No. 27734 of 2012