The Right to Information Act, of 2005 is an Indian legislation that was enacted to promote transparency and accountability in the functioning of government institutions. It grants Indian citizens the right to access information held by public authorities. The Act came into force on October 12, 2005. Here are some key points about the RTI Act, of 2005:
- Objective: The primary objective of the RTI Act is to empower Indian citizens to seek information from public authorities, thereby promoting transparency and reducing corruption.
- Public Authorities: The Act covers all central, state, and local government bodies, including government ministries, departments, public sector undertakings, and educational institutions funded by the government.
- Request for Information: Any citizen of India can file a request for information to a public authority. The request can be in writing or electronically through an RTI application. The information must be provided within 30 days of the request, except in cases where a third party is involved, in which case 40 days are allowed.
- Exemptions: The Act does have provisions for certain exemptions, where certain information can be withheld. These include issues related to national security, privacy, and commercial confidence, among others. However, there is a provision for appeal if the applicant disagrees with the decision to withhold information.
- Appellate Authorities: If an applicant is not satisfied with the information provided or the decision to withhold information, they can file an appeal to a higher authority known as the First Appellate Authority. If they are still dissatisfied, they can appeal to the Information Commission.
- Information Commission: The Information Commission is an independent body established under the Act at the central and state levels. It acts as the final appellate authority for RTI matters and can impose penalties on erring officials.
- Fees: There may be nominal fees for filing an RTI application, which can vary by state. Some categories of applicants, such as those living below the poverty line, are exempt from paying fees.
- Promotion of Proactive Disclosure: The Act also encourages public authorities to proactively disclose information regarding their functions, activities, and decisions to reduce the need for citizens to file RTI requests.
- Whistleblower Protection: The Act also provides protection to whistleblowers who expose corruption and wrongdoing within government bodies.
- Penalties for Non-Compliance: Public officials who do not provide information as per the Act’s provisions or obstruct the process can be subject to penalties, including fines and disciplinary action.
The RTI Act, of 2005 has been instrumental in empowering citizens to hold the government accountable and obtain the information they are entitled to. It has played a significant role in enhancing transparency and reducing corruption in India’s public administration.
SALIENT FEATURES OF RTI 2005
The Right to Information Act, 2005 in India contains several important features that are designed to promote transparency, accountability, and citizen empowerment. Here are the key features of the RTI Act, 2005:
- Applicability: The Act is applicable to the whole of India and extends to all states and Union territories.
- Public Authorities: The Act applies to public authorities, which includes government departments, ministries, public sector organizations, educational institutions, and any institution that is substantially financed by the government.
- Right to Information: Every citizen of India has the right to seek information from public authorities. This right is not limited to any particular group or category of citizens.
- Request for Information: Citizens can request information by filing a written or electronic application to the appropriate public authority. The request must specify the information sought and the name and contact details of the applicant.
- Time Limit: Public authorities are required to provide the requested information within 30 days of receiving the application. In cases involving the life and liberty of a person, the information must be provided within 48 hours.
- Exemptions: The Act specifies certain categories of information that can be exempt from disclosure, including matters related to national security, personal privacy, commercial confidence, and more.
- Third-Party Information: When a request involves the personal information of a third party, that third party must be given an opportunity to present their views before a decision is made on disclosure.
- Appeals Process: If the applicant is not satisfied with the information provided or the decision to withhold information, they can file an appeal with the First Appellate Authority within the same public authority. Further appeals can be made to the Information Commission.
- Information Commission: Independent Information Commissions at both the central and state levels are established to oversee the implementation of the Act, hear appeals, and adjudicate on disputes related to the right to information.
- Penalties: The Act includes provisions for penalties against public officials who fail to provide information or who obstruct the process of obtaining information. Penalties can include fines, as well as disciplinary action.
- Proactive Disclosure: Public authorities are encouraged to proactively disclose information about their functions, activities, and decisions. This aims to reduce the need for citizens to file RTI requests.
- No Need to Justify: Applicants are not required to provide reasons or justifications for seeking information. They can simply request the information they need.
- Whistleblower Protection: The Act provides some protection to whistleblowers who expose corruption and wrongdoing in government organizations.
- Fees: There may be nominal fees for filing an RTI application, which can vary by state. Certain categories of applicants, such as those living below the poverty line, are exempt from paying fees.
The RTI Act, of 2005 has been a transformative piece of legislation in India, giving citizens the power to access information held by public authorities, thus promoting transparency and accountability in government operations. It has played a vital role in enhancing the democratic process and reducing corruption.
Process of RTI Act 2005
The Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005 in India provides a mechanism for Indian citizens to access information held by public authorities. Here is the process for filing a Right to Information request under the RTI Act, 2005:
- Identify the Public Authority: Determine which government department or agency holds the information you are seeking. This could be a central government ministry, a state government department, a public sector undertaking, or any other entity funded by the government.
- Draft Your RTI Application: Prepare a clear, concise, and specific request for information. The application should include the following details:
- Your name and contact information.
- A clear and specific description of the information you are seeking.
- The format in which you prefer to receive the information (e.g., paper, electronic, etc.).
- The name and address of the public authority to which you are addressing the request.
- Pay the Application Fee: In some cases, you may need to pay an application fee while submitting your RTI application. The fee can vary depending on the public authority and the state’s rules. Some categories of applicants, like those below the poverty line, may be exempt from paying fees.
- Submit Your RTI Application: You can submit your RTI application in one of the following ways:
- Online: Many government departments and states provide online platforms to submit RTI applications.
- In-Person: You can physically submit your application at the office of the relevant public authority.
- By Post: Send your application by registered post or speed post to the designated address of the public authority.
- Acknowledgment and Application Number: Once your application is received, the public authority is required to issue an acknowledgment receipt. The acknowledgment will include an application number, which you can use to track the status of your application.
- Response Time: The public authority is generally required to provide a response to your RTI application within 30 days. If your request involves the life or liberty of a person, the information must be provided within 48 hours.
- Response from the Public Authority: The public authority will respond to your request by providing the requested information, denying the information (if it falls under exempt categories), or seeking clarification if necessary. If the information is denied, the authority must provide a reason for the denial.
- Appeal: If you are not satisfied with the response or if your request is denied, you have the right to file an appeal with the First Appellate Authority within the same public authority. If you are still dissatisfied, you can file a second appeal with the Information Commission.
- Information Commission: The Information Commission, an independent body established under the RTI Act, is the final appellate authority. You can file a second appeal with the appropriate Information Commission (central or state) within 90 days from the date on which the decision should have been made by the First Appellate Authority.
- Compliance and Enforcement: If your appeal is successful, the public authority is required to provide the information. In some cases, the Information Commission may impose penalties on officials who have violated the RTI Act.
It’s important to be specific and clear in your RTI application, as this will help ensure that you receive the information you are seeking. Additionally, staying within the timelines prescribed by the Act is crucial for a successful RTI application.RTI-Act-2005-Amended-English-VersionDownload