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Right to Information Act: An Overview
As per the Article 19(1)(a) of the Indian Constitution, the freedom of speech and expression to every citizen of that country. Since a person cannot form an informed opinion without sufficient knowledge and available facilities, this right extends to both the giving and receiving of information. The fundamental right enshrined in Article 19(1) secures the freedom to know and seek information as an essential component.
Furthermore, the Supreme Court has ruled that Article 19(1) of the Constitution grants citizens a basic right to access the information regarding the topics of public concern. The Freedom of Information Act of 2002, India's first major piece of legislation addressing the right to information, was passed on December 4 but was not immediately notified. A National Advisory Council. The National Advisory Council (NAC) was created by the UPA (United Progressive Alliance) government in 2004 and made recommendations for revisions to the Freedom of Information Act, of 2002.
The Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha both passed the updated law, referred to as "The Right to Information Act, 2005," on May 11 and 12, 2005, respectively. The Act was approved by the Indian President on June 15, 2005, and it became effective on October 12, 2005.
Major objectives are −
To provide a structure that is feasible and enables citizens to access information that is under the authority of public authorities.
To encourage accountability and transparency in how governments and their agencies operate.
To make provisions for the creation of information commissions at the state and federal levels to carry out the Act's duties and exercise its powers.
Significance of the RTI Act, 2005
Citizens can challenge the secrecy and misuse of power used in government under the RTI Act, of 2005. Access to such material is made available through the information commissions at the federal and state levels. RTI data can be viewed as a public benefit because it is pertinent to citizens' interests and is an essential component of a healthy, transparent democracy. These applications ask for information on a variety of topics, ranging from holding the government responsible for the fulfillment of fundamental rights and entitlements to challenging the nation's highest posts. The right to information is a fundamental right that derives from Articles 19 and 21 of the constitution, which guarantee people's freedom of speech and expression and their right to life, respectively. The Supreme Court has affirmed this in several rulings. Access to information regarding government choices, activities, and policies that have an impact on individuals' lives is a tool for ensuring accountability.
According to the RTI Act of 2005, the term "Appropriate Government" has a definition under Section 2(a) of the Act. The government, a public authority dealing with the right to information, is referred to as the appropriate government. Such an authority is created, constituted, owned, managed, or substantially funded by the Union Territory Administration, the State Governments, or the Central Government.
The Act's Section 2(e) defines "competent authority." The authority in charge of the autonomous institutions operating by the Constitution's requirements is known as the competent authority. This authority is ultimately in charge of enforcing the RTI Act in those institutions.
‘Information’ under the Act
The types of information accessible under the right to information are outlined in Section 2(f). Information includes any type of content, such as −
"Public authority" is defined in Section 2(h). Public authorities are institutions of self-governance that are connected to the government either directly or indirectly. Any of the following ways may tie an authority to the government.
It was created, constituted, or governed by the Constitution.
It was established by a Parliamentary Act.
It was established by a state legislature act.
It is created or formed by a notification or order issued by the relevant authorities.
Salient Features of the Act
Key features of the Act are discussed below −
Public sector obligations: Section 4
Before making any major policies or decisions that will have an impact on the public, a public authority must make all relevant information about the public.
Every public authority is required to explain the reasoning behind any judicial or administrative decisions to those who will be affected by them.
Publication of specific information: Every public authority is required to disclose specific information within 120 days of the Act's passage. A few examples are listed below.
The specifics of its structure, tasks, and functions.
The authority and responsibilities of its officers and workers
The method used to make decisions, including the channels used for oversight and accountability.
Details of any arrangements for public participation in policy-making or policy implementation by public authorities should be provided when such arrangements exist.
Information provided voluntarily: Section 4 (2)
According to Section 4(2), public authorities are required to make an effort to inform the public suo moto regularly, using a variety of communication channels.
Sections 4(3) and 4(4) address information dissemination
The public can easily access information that has been widely disseminated under Section 4(3). According to Section 4(4), the following elements must be taken into account before disseminating information
The native tongue of a region.
The best means of communication in a specific locality.
Criticism of the RTI Act, 2005
One of the act's biggest drawbacks is that the bureaucracy's shoddy record-keeping causes file to go missing.
There have been reports of pointless RTI requests, and the information gathered has also been used to threaten government officials.
The Whistle Blower Act and other supplemental measures are weakening the impact of the RTI statute.
There are not enough people working for the information commissions.
The Right to Information Act of 2005 is a significant legal measure for enforcing citizens' right to information access. The Act requires prompt responses to citizen requests for information from the government. By visiting https://rtionline.gov.in/, a project of the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances, and Pension, and the Department of Personnel and Training, citizens can submit RTI requests to the Central Government's public authorities. You can submit an RTI request for the public. Entities managed by state governments can access the state's RTI portal or website.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. How can one use the RTI Act?
Ans. Any citizen may apply for an RTI by paying 10 rupees to the appointed official.
Q2. The right to information is what kind of a right?
Ans. The Supreme Court of India has classified the right to information as a fundamental right under Article 19(1) of the Indian Constitution.
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