Right to Information

In a democratic government of the people, by the people and for the
people, the foundation of a healthy democracy lies in well-informed citizens . Enlightened and informed citizens definitely enhance the democratic values of a country. The right to information in a democratic set up is recognized all over the world and it is a natural right flowing from the very concept of democracy. No democratic government can survive without accountability and the basic postulate of accountability is that the people should have information about the functioning of their Government.
Now that India has a law for RTI, it can be made more beneficial by its effective implementation leading to improved public administration for the betterment of the people.

Right To Information is derived from our fundamental right of freedom of speech and expression under Article 19 of the Constitution. If we do not have information on how our Government and Public Institutions function, we cannot express any informed opinion on it. Democracy revolves around the basic idea of Citizens being at the center of governance. And the freedom of the press is an essential element for a democracy to function. It is thus obvious that the main reason for a free press is to ensure that Citizens are informed. Thus it clearly flows from this, that the Citizens Right To Know is highly important.

The Act primarily envisages setting out a practical regime of right to information for citizens to secure access to information under the control of public authorities, in order to promote transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority.
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: –
1) Inspection of work, documents, records.
2) Taking notes, extracts, or certified copies of documents or records.
3) Taking certified samples of material.
4) Obtaining information in the form of diskettes, floppies, tapes, video cassettes or in any other electronic mode or through printouts where such information is shared in a computer or in any other device.

Objective of the Act

1) To promote transparency and functioning of the government. accountability in the functioning of the government.

2) Right to information makes administration more accountable to people.


3) It reduces the gap between administration and people. Right Information makes people aware of administrative decision-making.

4) It facilitates better delivery of goods and services to people by civil servants. It facilitates intelligent and constructive criticism of administration.

Steps to Apply

Write a simple application along with the prescribed fees addressing Public Information Officer (PIO) of the related department from which you want to get any information.
Fee
For Central Departments, there is a fee of Rs 10 for filing the request, Rs 2 per page of information and Rs 5 for each hour of inspection after the first hour. However, if the applicant is a Below Poverty Card holder, then he/she need not pay any fee at all. Time Limit
The law also contains a provision for timely imparting of information. The concerned public officials face a penalty in case the information is not given in time. The time limit is reasonable and does not jeo-pardise a person’s rights. Time limits are set in order of urgency and accessibility. Information regarding a person’s life and liberty is made available forthwith or within the shortest possible time, say within 48 hours.

Penalties
Sec.20 (1) provides power the State Information Commission to impose a penalty of Rs.250/- per day till application is received OR information is furnished, so however, the total amount of such penalty shall not exceed Rs.25000/- Provided that the State Information Officer, as the case may be, shall be given a reasonable opportunity of being heard before any penalty is imposed. As per Sec.20 (2) the State Public Information Committee shall recommend for disciplinary action against the State Public Information Officer, as the case may be under the Service Rules applicable to him.

Ground for Denial of Application
As per Sec.24 of the Act, intelligence and Security Organizations established by the Central Government and Listed in of the Act, shall not apply:- Information pertaining to allegations of Corruption is not excluded. Information pertaining to Human Rights Violation can be given after approval of Central Information Commission time allowed,45 days.

RTI Amendment 2019

The amended bill does away with the fixed tenure of five years for the Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) and the Information Commissioners (IC) — instead, they will serve for a tenure determined by the Central government. Moreover, the salary of the CIC and the ICs which are currently benchmarked with the salary of the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and the Election Commissioners respectively, which in turn are benchmarked with the salary of a Supreme Court judge, amount to Rs 2.50 lakh, along with a monthly allowance of Rs 34,000 per month — plus the usual perks like rent free furnished accommodation and 200 litres of fuel every month. The amended bill gives the government to fix the salary, which could be lower — given that the Information Commission is a statutory body unlike the EC which is a constitutional body. However, the current incumbents’ salaries will not be affected by the amendment.

Right to Information (RTI) as a tool for promoting participatory development, strengthening democratic governance and facilitating effective delivery of socio-economic services. In the knowledge society, in which we live today, acquisition of information and new knowledge and its application have intense and pervasive impact on processes of taking informed decisions. Right to Information Act 2005, is termed as the best tool for bringing Good governance in the society. This right has been recognized in many International instruments and is seen not just a facet of the right to freedom of speech and expression but also as a right that is necessary for the exercise of civil and political rights and socio-economic and cultural rights.

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