About RTI Act, 2005
- Under the RTI Act, 2005, Public Authorities are required to make disclosures on various aspects of their structure and functioning.
- This includes: (i) disclosure on their organisation, functions, and structure, (ii) powers and duties of its officers and employees, and (iii) financial information.
- The intent of such suo moto disclosures is that the public should need minimum recourse through the Act to obtain such information. If such information is not made available, citizens have the right to request for it from the Authorities.
- This may include information in the form of documents, files, or electronic records under the control of the Public Authority. The intent behind the enactment of the Act is to promote transparency and accountability in the working of Public Authorities.
Who is included in the ambit of ‘Public Authorities’?
- The RTI Act defines “public authorities” in Section 2(h).
- A “public authority” means any authority or body or institution of self- government established or constituted
- by or under the Constitution;
- by any other law made by Parliament;
- by any other law made by State Legislature;
- by notification issued or order made by the appropriate Government, and includes any –
- body owned, controlled or substantially financed;
- Non-Government organization substantially financed, directly or indirectly by funds provided by the appropriate Government.
How is the right to information enforced under the Act?
- The Act has established a three tier structure for enforcing the right to information guaranteed under the Act.
- The first request for information goes to the Central/State Assistant Public Information Officer and Central/State Public Information Officer, designated by the Public Authorities. These Officers are required to provide information to an RTI applicant within 30 days of the request.
- Appeals from their decisions go to an Appellate Authority.
- Appeals against the order of the Appellate Authority go to the State Information Commission or the Central Information Commission. These Information Commissions consist of a Chief Information Commissioner, and up to 10 Information Commissioners.
Right to Information (Amendment) Act, 2019
- The Act amended Sections 13 and 16 of the RTI Act, 2005.
- Section 13 of the original Act sets the term of the central Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners at five years (or until the age of 65, whichever is earlier). The amendment changed that the appointment will be for such term as may be prescribed by the Central Government.
- According to the amendment act, the salaries, allowances and other terms of service of the Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners shall be such as may be prescribed by the Central Government. Previously it was equivalent to that of the Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners respectively.
- The government said that the amendment was required because the election commission is a Constitutional body while the information commission, formed under the Right to Information Act, is a statutory one.
Why in News?
- The Government is set to appoint former Indian Foreign Service officer and Information Commissioner Yashvardhan Kumar Sinha as the new Chief Information Commissioner.
How is the Central Information Commission constituted?
- Under the RTI Act 2005, the Central Government shall, by notification in the Official Gazette, constitute a body to be known as the Central Information Commission.
- The Central Information Commission shall consist of the Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) and such number of Central Information Commissioners (ICs) not exceeding 10 as may be deemed necessary.
Process of appointment of CIC/IC
- The Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners shall be appointed by the President on the recommendation of a committee consisting of:-
- the Prime Minister, who shall be the Chairperson of the committee;
- the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha; and
- a Union Cabinet Minister to be nominated by the Prime Minister.
- Note: Where the Leader of Opposition in the House of the People has not been recognized as such, the Leader of the single largest group in opposition of the Government in the House of the People shall be deemed to be the Leader of Opposition.
- Section 12(5) of the RTI Act 2005 provides that the Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners shall be persons of eminence in public life with wide knowledge and experience in law, science and technology, social service, management, journalism, mass media or administration and governance.
- Chief Information Commissioner or an Information Commissioner shall not be a Member of Parliament or Member of the Legislature of any State or Union Territory as the case may be, or hold any other office of profit or connected with any political party or carrying on any business or pursuing any profession.