Salient features of RTI Act, 2005
Why right to information?
Issues pertaining to RTI
Conclusion and suggestions
The right to information Act was passed on December 23, 2004, the UPA Govt. that tabled the RTI Bill 2004.This Bill was passed by Lok Sabha on 11th May, 2005 and by Rajya Sabha on 12th May, 2005. It received assent of the President on 15th June, 2005 and was published in the Gazette of India on 21st June, 2005. The landmark act finally came into force with effect from 12th October, 2005.
Right to information—Subject to the provisions of this Act, all citizens shall have the right to information.
These words in many ways led our country to a brighter path in the direction of democracy and the act without a hint of doubt is revolutionary in itself.
Right to information is inherent in our Constitution in form of Article 19(1)(a) under Fundamental Rights-freedom of speech and expression. It has been held in a number of court judgments including the Supreme Court judgment in the case of Secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India & Ors. v. Cricket Association of Bengal & Anr. that the freedom of speech and expression includes the right to acquire information and disseminate it. However as the provision was not explicit and as there was no formal mechanism for seeking information the request for demand for information was rarely entertained sympathetically.
It has taken India 77 years for transition from an opaque system of governance, legitimized by the Colonial Official Secrets Act, to one where citizens can demand the right to information. The recent enactment of the Freedom of Information Act, 2002 marks a significant shift for Indian democracy, for the greater the access of citizens to information, the greater the responsiveness of government to community needs.
The struggle for Right to Information was started by an organisation Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangthan (MKSS) which was founded by activists Aruna Roy and Nikhil Dey in 1990 in Rajasthan. National Campaign for the People’s Right to Information (NCPRI) was founded by Aruna Roy and some other activists in 1996 with a mandate to work for bringing in an effective legislation at the centre as well as the states for providing right to information to the people. Under the pressure of activists as well as international agencies a number of states enacted their RTI Acts. These were Tamil Nadu (1996), Goa (1997), Madhya Pradesh (1998), Rajasthan (2000), Maharashtra (2000), Karnataka (2000), Delhi (2001), Assam (2002), and Jammu and Kashmir (2003). A national Bill, was placed in Parliament in June 2000 and was passed as the Freedom of Information Act in 2002, by the NDA but was not notified. Another law, Right to Information Act was passed in 2005 and it came into effect on 12th October 2005.
Salient features of RTI Act, 2005
Important features of the RTI Act are as under:
- Every citizen has right to claim information from public authorities.
- Public authorities have an obligation to provide the sought information to the applicants. However this is subject to certain restrictions primarily relating to national security, personal information and third party information.
- Public authorities have to provide information as early as possible as but not later than 30 days (not later than 48 hours in the matters pertaining to life and liberty of an individual).
- In case of denial or not providing proper information an appellate structure has also been provided. First appeal lies with the First Appellate Authority nominated by the Department while the second appeal lies with the Central Information Commission/State Information Commission.
- Jurisdiction of local courts has been barred under the Act i.e. appeal against decisions of CIC can only be filed in the High Court.
- Section 12-14 of the RTI Act provide for setting up of Central Information Commission. The Commission is headed by Chief Information Commissioner. Similarly, Section 15-18 provides for setting up of State Information Commission. These Commissions act as the Second Appellate Authority and also exercise supervision and monitoring over the functioning of Public Information Officers
 Semester II, National School Of Research And Study In Law, Ranchi, India
 Section 3(1) Right to Information Act 2005
 [(1995) 2 SCC 161]