About RTI Act, 2005
- Under the Right to Information 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.
Section 8 of the RTI
- This provides for exemption from disclosure of information that are more valid in reasons
- Which would affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security, strategic, scientific or economic interests of the State;
- Which has been expressly forbidden to be published by any court of law or tribunal;
- Which would cause a breach of privilege of Parliament or the State Legislature;
- Information including commercial confidence, trade secrets or intellectual property;
- Information received in confidence from foreign government;
- Information which would endanger the life or physical safety of any person; etc.
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.
Section 4(2) of the RTI
- It mandates that different authorities and government departments should voluntarily disclose (suo motu) much information to the public at regular intervals through various means, including the internet, so that the public have minimum resort to the use of this Act to obtain information.
Why in News?
- The Supreme Court has asked for the government’s response to a plea seeking the effective implementation of Section 4(2) in the Right to Information Act, which obliges public authorities to suo motu disclose information to the public in order to maintain transparency in governance.
- The petition termed the Section as the soul of the Right to Information, without which the Act would only be an “ornamental legislation”.
- It backed its cause by citing reports of the Central Information Commission on the lack of compliance by public authorities.