Your email address will not be published. Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. Learn more. Maximum time gap for 1st appeal : 30 days since limit of supply of information is expired. Maximum time gap for 2nd appeal : 90 days since limit of supply of information is expired. RTI act also asks for computerization and proactively publish information. The exclusion is not absolute. The Chief Information Commissioner shall hold office for a term of five years from the date on which he enters upon his office and shall not be eligible for reappointment.
Section 8 deals with information exempted under the purview of this act. Giving the individual access to government information ensures that people will make an informed choice when they select those individuals who will make policy decisions about their lives. If the government can be held accountable by the citizens, or if people can participate effectively, it leads to fairness in the administrative decision-making process.
Before the RTI was passed, the Supreme Court held, in a wide variety of cases that the right to information is a fundamental right. A study of these cases exemplifies the benefits of a system which provides access to information. The Court opined that the constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech and press are not for the benefit of the press so much as for the benefit of the people.
The purpose of the press is to advance the public interest by publishing facts and opinions without which a democratic electorate cannot make responsible judgments. The author submits that without freedom of information, the press will not be able to perform its duty of acquiring and disseminating correct and logically true facts to the common man. Indeed, in order to form opinions that a citizen can express, it becomes vital that he have information on that subject.
In Union of India v. Similarly, the right to information is implicit in Article 21 of the Constitution. Basu v. Among other things this included his right to be informed of who is arresting and interrogating him and why and also his right to have a friend or relative informed of the arrest, as soon as is practicable.
These cases illustrate how access to information in a society results in a healthier democracy and improved participation. In order to understand the need for and also the faults of providing access to information, one must first study the barriers that exist to the free flow of information in India. The Official Secrets Act, , originally enacted during the time of the British to protect against spying, now stands as a barrier to the flow of information from the Government to the citizens.
Section 5 of this Act has a wide ambit. It virtually prohibits the disclosure of any information which the government considers to be confidential and makes it a punishable offence to violate these rules. In an effort to circumvent this privilege, courts adopted the practice of inspecting the documents in-camera and if it was found that their disclosure might adversely affect public interest, the claim for non-disclosure was upheld.
Lastly, certain acts contain provisions against the disclosure of information. For example, the Atomic Energy Act, places severe restrictions on the releasing of information about atomic plants.
Sathe contends that these restrictions are so wide that the population surrounding a reactor cannot ask for what hazards it must take precautions against. These provisions prevent the common man from accessing information about the Government.
Salient Features of Right To Information Act 2005
Designed to enable the state to protect its secrets, they can be used to hide inefficiencies and errors on part of the state from public scrutiny and accountability. In such a scenario, a vast amount of information may be shielded from the public. However, one must remember that these barriers exist for a reason. In actual practice, the unrestrained revelation of information can conflict with other public interests such as efficient operations of the Government, optimum use of limited fiscal resources and the preservation of confidentiality of sensitive information. Moreover, certain operations of the Government, such as defense, cannot always be open to public scrutiny.
Awareness of Right to Information
The Right to Information can collide with the Right to Privacy. The protection of privacy principle holds that that individuals should, generally speaking, have some control over the use made by others, especially government agencies, of information concerning themselves.
A question that arises is whether access to information can be extended to accessing information from private organizations. If yes, then where does one draw the line between invasion of privacy and the right to information. With the passing of the RTI, in India private organizations too can be scrutinized via s. Further, information can also be sought from a non-Governmental body if it is financed substantially by the Government.
Thus, one may conclude that unlimited access to information cannot be provided. It should be limited, at least, for the following reasons:.
Awareness of Right to Information
The obvious advantage of the legislation is that it provides a system through which people can obtain information. It is necessary to cast a specific duty on public bodies to provide information, and this can only be done through a legislation that lays down these duties and recognizes the right of the citizen. The Act, through s. A perusal of the section shows that access to information may be denied if the disclosure of the information sought for affects the sovereignty and integrity of the nation, or affects foreign relations with another country, or has been expressly forbidden by a court or Tribunal, or causes breach or privilege of State Legislatures or the Parliament or which harms the competitive position of a third party, or impedes the process of an investigation or invades the privacy of an individual or has been obtained in a fiduciary capacity.
Thus, the Act provides a large range of exemptions. These exemptions can be used to restrict the flow of sensitive information, but can also be misused to restrict the flow of information if it serves the interest of the public authority. As a result, in order to understand whether the exemptions work for the benefit of or to the detriment of the Right to Information, one must study the manner in which they are used by the PIOs and the Commission. A few cases handled by the Commission are given below:.
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Information regarding a plan of and building restrictions around an Indian Air Force Station in Pune was exempted from disclosure by the Commission as it could prejudicially affect national security. A request seeking for copies of the correspondence between the Ministry of External Affairs and the Governments of the USSR over the disappearance of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose was denied as the disclosure of such information could affect relations with a foreign state. Hence, it was furnished to the appellant without disclosing the names of individual buyers and sellers.
If one were to seek information about his own case the question of invasion of privacy does not arise.
Therefore, the Commission directed the release of the information sought by the appellant when it concerned his own company. These cases show that where ever possible, the Commission has made attempts to supply as much information as it can, without affecting protected interests, to the applicants. However, notwithstanding anything under the Official Secrets Act or any of the exemptions in s. The disadvantages of the act, however, are to be found often enough in its use by the applicants for information.