Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Right to Information Act 2005

National Campaign for People’s Right to Information

The RTI Act 2005 - Coverage

  • Comes into effect from October 2005.
  • Covers Central, State and Local governments, and
    - all bodies owned, controlled or substantially financed;
    - non-government organisation substantially financed, directly or indirectly by funds provided by the appropriate Government (2(h))
  • Covers executive, judiciary and legislature (2(e))
  • Covers central, state and local governments.
  • Includes information relating to private bodies which can be accessed under any other law for the time being in force (2(f))

The RTI Act 2005 – Some Definitions
"Information" includes any material in any form, opinions, advices, and samples.
"Right to Information" includes inspection of work, records; taking certified samples of material

  • The RTI Act 2005 - Processes
  • Application with fee, to Public Information Officer (PIO).
  • PIO in each office/PA. Assistant PIO at sub-district levels
  • Information within 30 days. 48 hours where life or liberty is involved.
  • No action on application for 30 days is a deemed refusal.
  • No fee for delayed response

    Exempt information:
  • Affecting sovereignty, integrity, security, strategic, scientific or economic, or other interests of the State, relation with foreign state or leading to incitement of an offence;
  • Forbidden by courts;
  • Affecting privilege of Parliament or Legislature;
  • Commercial confidence, trade secrets or intellectual property, unless larger public interest so warrants;
  • received in confidence from foreign government;
  • endangers life or physical safety or identifies confidential source of information or assistance
  • impedes the process of investigation or apprehension
  • cabinet papers, till after the decision has been taken, and the matter is complete, or over:
  • personal information which would cause invasion of the privacy unless larger public interest justifies it.

    RTI Act 2005-Exemptions contd.
  • Infringes copyright, except of the state.
  • Intelligence and security agencies exempt – except for corruption and human rights violation charges
  • Notice to third party
  • Most exempt information released after 20 years.
  • Notwithstanding anything a public authority may allow access to information, if public interests in disclosure outweighs the harm to the protected interests.

    RTI Act 2005 - Appeals
  • Appeals
  • First appeal with senior in the department
  • Second appeal with Information Commission
  • Appeals to be settled in 30-45 days
  • Onus of proof on refuser/public authority
  • Envisages an independent Information Commission at the Central and State level.
  • To be appointed by a committee of PM/CM, leader of opposition and one minister.

    RTI Act 2005 - Penalties
  • Penalties
  • Imposable by Information Commission on PIO or officer asked to assist PIO
  • For unreasonable delay – Rs 250 per day up to Rs 25,000
  • For illegitimate refusal to accept application, malafide denial, knowingly providing false information, destruction of information, etc. – up to Rs. 25,000 fine
  • Recommendation for departmental action for persistent or serious violations

    RTI Act 2005 - Access
  • Universal Access – especially to the Poor
  • Fee at a reasonable level. No fee for BPL.
  • APIOs at sub-district levels.
  • No need to specify reason for seeking information or other personal details
  • Provision to reduce oral requests into writing
  • Provision to provide all required assistance, including to sensorily disabled persons.
  • Information to be provided in local languages
  • Provision for damages

RTI Act 2005–Responsibilities of Public Authorities

  • Publishing all relevant facts while formulating important policies or announcing the decisions which affect public (4(1)(c)).
  • Providing reasons for its administrative or quasi judicial decisions to affected persons (4(1)(d)).
  • Providing a large amount of information suo moto (4(2)).
  • Providing information to Information Commission (25(2)).

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