The Right to Information Act 2005
- WHEREAS the Constitution of India has established democratic Republic;
- AND WHEREAS democracy requires an informed citizenry and transparency of information which are vital to its functioning and also to contain corruption and to hold Governments and their instrumentalities accountable to the governed;
AND WHEREAS revelation of information in actual practice is likely to conflict with other public interests including efficient operations of the Governments, optimum use of limited fiscal resources and the preservation of confidentiality of sensitive information;
AND WHEREAS it is necessary to harmonise these conflicting interests while preserving the paramountcy of the democratic ideal;
- NOW, THEREFORE, it is expedient to provide for furnishing certain information to citizens who desire to have it
- 2 (f) "information" means any material in any form, including records, documents, memos, e-mails, opinions, advices, press releases, circulars, orders, logbooks, contracts, reports, papers, samples, models, data material held in any electronic form and information relating to any private body which can be accessed by a public authority under any other law for the time being in force;
Public Authorities Section 2h
- “public authority” means any authority or body or institution of self government established or constituted,—
- (a) by or under the Constitution ;
- (b) by any other law made by Parliament;
- (c) by any other law made by State Legislature;
- (d) by notification issued or order made by the appropriate Government,
- and includes any--
- (i) body owned, controlled or substantially financed;
- (ii) non-Government organisation substantially financed,
- directly or indirectly by funds provided by the appropriate Government;”
- PM’s & CM’s Relief fund
Right to Information Sec 2j
- (j) "right to information" means the right to information accessible under this Act which is held by or under the control of any public authority and includes the right to-
- (i) inspection of work, documents, records;
- (ii) taking notes, extracts, or certified copies of documents or records;
- (iii) taking certified samples of material;
- (iv) obtaining information in the form of diskettes, floppies. tapes, video cassettes or in any other electronic mode or through printouts where such information is stored in a computer or in any other device; .
- Subject to the provisions of this Act,
all Citizens shall have the
right to information.
Section 4 – Suo Moto Disclosures
Seventeen points under 4 (1) (b)
- (xvii) such other information as may be prescribed;
- The heart of the RTI Act.
- Unsatisfactory implementation.
- Proper implementation could improve the working efficiency of working.
- It would also make the PIOs job easier.
Section 6- Request for obtaining information
- (1) A person, who desires to obtain any information under this Act, shall make a request in writing or through electronic means in English or Hindi or in the official language of the area in which the application is being made,
- (2) An applicant making request for information shall not be required to give any reason for requesting the information or any other personal details except those that may be necessary for contacting him.
- (3) Where an application is made to a public authority requesting for an information,-
(i) which is held by another public authority; or
- (ii) the subject matter of which is more closely connected with the functions of another public authority,
the public authority, to which such application is made, shall transfer the application or such part of it as may be appropriate to that other public authority and inform the applicant immediately about such transfer:
- Provided that the transfer of an application pursuant to this sub-section shall be made as soon as practicable but
in no case later than five days from the date of receipt of the application.
7. Disposal of request
- (1) on receipt of a request under section 6 (PIO) shall, as expeditiously as possible, and in any case within thirty days of the receipt of the request, either provide the information on payment of such fee as may be prescribed or reject the request for any of the reasons specified in sections 8 and 9:
- Where the information concerns the life or liberty of a person, the same shall be provided within forty-eight hours of the receipt of the request.
- (2) If PIO fails to give decision on the request for information within the period specified under sub-section (1), the PIO shall be deemed to have refused the request.
- (3) PIO must give details of further fees representing the cost of providing the information as determined by him, together with the calculations made to arrive at the amount in accordance with fee prescribed under sub-section (1), requesting him to deposit that fees, and the period intervening between the despatch of the said intimation and payment of fees shall be excluded for the purpose of calculating the period of thirty days.
- (6)person making request for the information shall be provided the information free of charge where a public authority fails to comply with the time limits specified (30 days)
- (8) Where a request has been rejected under subsection (1), the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be shall communicate to the person making the request,-
the reasons for such rejection;
the period within which an appeal against such rejection may be preferred;
the particulars of the appellate authority.
- (9) An information shall ordinarily be provided in the form in which it is sought unless it would disproportionately divert the resources of the public authority or would be detrimental to the safety or preservation of the record in question.
Exemption from disclosure of information –Section 8
- (1) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, there shall be no obligation to give any citizen,-
- (a) information, disclosure of which would prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security, strategic, scientific or economic interests of the State, relation with foreign State or lead to incitement of an offence;
- (b) information which has been expressly forbidden to be published by any court of law or tribunal or the disclosure of which may constitute contempt of court;
- (c) information, the disclosure of which would cause a breach of privilege of Parliament or the State Legislature;
- (d) information including commercial confidence, trade secrets or intellectual property, the disclosure of which would harm the competitive position of a third party, unless the competent authority is satisfied that larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information;
- (e) information available to a person in his fiduciary relationship, unless the competent authority is satisfied that the larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information;
Section 8.. Cont.
- (f) information received in confidence from foreign government;
- (g) information, the disclosure of which would endanger the life or physical safety of any person or identify the source of information or assistance given in confidence for law enforcement or security purposes;
- (h) information which would impede the process of investigation or apprehension or prosecution of offenders;
- (i) cabinet papers including records of deliberations of the Council of Ministers, Secretaries and other officers:
- Provided that the decisions of Council of Ministers, the reasons thereof, and the material on the basis of which the decisions were taken shall be made public after the decision has been taken, and the matter is complete, or over:
- Provided further that those matters which come under the exemptions specified in this section shall not be disclosed;
- information which relates to personal information the disclosure of which has no relationship to any public activity or interest, or which would cause unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the individual unless the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer or the appellate authority, as the case may be, is satisfied that the larger public interest justifies the disclosure of such information:
- Provided that the information, which cannot be denied to the Parliament or a State Legislature shall not be denied to any person.
- (2) Notwithstanding anything in the Official Secrets Act, 1923 nor any of the exemptions permissible in accordance with sub-section (1), a public authority may allow access to information, if public interests in disclosure outweighs the harm to the protected interests.
- 11. (1) Where a Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, intends to disclose any information or record, or part thereof on a request made under this Act, which. relates to or has been supplied by a third party and has been treated as confidential by that third party, the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, shall, within five days from the receipt of the request, give a written notice to such third party of the request and of the fact that the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, intends to disclose the information or record, or part thereof, and invite the third party to make a submission in writing or orally, regarding whether the information should be disclosed, and such submission of the third party shall be kept in view while taking a decision about disclosure of information:
Some necessary Actions by Public authority
- Clearly identify the holders,-deemed PIOs,- of various records
- PIO should directly send his requisition for information to the holder of the record.
- All ‘holders of record’ must understand the relevance of Section 5 (4) and Section 5 (5), and their liabilities under Section 20 (1).
‘Holder of record’ can either be the dealing assistant or the Section officer. If the Public authority decides that the Section officer must be referred to, the Section officer must be held administratively responsible for providing the information and be liable as the deemed PIO.
Section 5 (4) & 5(5)
- (4) The Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, may seek the assistance of any other officer as he or she considers it necessary for the proper discharge of his or her duties.
- (5) Any officer, whose assistance has been sought under sub-section (4), shall render all assistance to the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, seeking his or her assistance and for the purposes of any contravention of the provisions of this Act, such other officer shall be treated as a Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be .
- RTI application received. 30 days clock starts.
- All RTI applications must reach the PIO within one day.
Within one day of the receipt of the requisition for information, please check the following ( in cases where the life or liberty of a person is involved, information has to be provided in 48 hours) :
Has the application fee been paid? For Central Govt. bodies, a Citizen can pay 10 rupees by cash, banker’s cheque, Indian Postal order or in a designated Post office.
Is the applicant’s contact information provided?
Is the requisition for ‘information’ covered by Section 2 (f) and (j) ?
If the answer is ‘no’, please intimate the requisitioner that what has been asked for is not ‘information’ as defined by Section 2 (f) or 2(j) of the RTI act.
If the answer is ‘Yes’, ie. What has been asked for, is ‘information’ as defined by the Act it may be given.
If prima facie you see that information must be provided, see if you have the information with you. If so, see if any charge is leviable as per the rules. For Central Government the charges are Rs. 2 per page for A4 size Xerox copy or collated and typed. Intimate the requisitioner of the calculations and the total amount payable, and ask him to pay the amount. If there are items whose cost has not been specified in the rules, -eg. Samples,-please make a reasonable estimate. On payment of the amount release the information. If some information is not being provided, indicate clearly which information is not being provided and give the reasons how any of the exemption clauses are applicable.
If some the information has to be obtained from another officer send him a note, and seek his assistance under Section 5 (4), stating that he must give you an answer within 15 days.
If voluminous information has been sought, which would take too much resources, estimate the number of pages in which the information may exist and offer to give the pages from which information would have to be collated, at Rs. 2 per page. Also offer an inspection of the records to the applicant.- Section 7 (9).
[ Extract of the Presentation By Mr. Sailesh Gandhi, Commissioner, CIC , given during the Training Programme of the PIO/FAA of SDMC]