An Introduction of the Right To Information Act, 2005
Authored by Triyasa Gope
Keywords:- Information, fundamental rights, government.
Right to Information Act is a very important act for Indian society for better governance. This Act is related to the fundamental right of Right to freedom of speech and expression. It applied for the transparency and accountability in the work of the government. It gives citizen awareness to exercise the rights of them. The first section of this article deals with information. Second section deals with the right to information. Third section deals with the public authorities. The fourth section deals with the obligations of public authorities. The fifth section describes fees to get information. The sixth section describes the importance of the Right to Information Act and lastly the conclusion of the article.
Right to Information Act, 2005 is a central legislature passed the act. It provides a particular authority of the right to information to the citizens. The Right to Information bill, 2005, passed by Lok Sabha on May 11, 2005, and by Rajya Sabha on May 12, 2005, and received the signature of President of India on June 15, 2005. At last, came into force on October 12, 2005. It replaced the Freedom of Information Act, 2002.
This Act was applicable in India, except Jammu and Kashmir till 2019. After 2019 the word ‘except the state Jammu and Kashmir' was omitted by the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019. Now whole India follows the Right to Information Act, 2005. This law is very comprehensive and covers almost all the possible matters of administration, being applicable to government of all levels.
This Act is connected with Article 19 of the Constitution of India, which deals with Freedom of Speech, Expression and also interpreted by the Supreme Court. Recently, the Supreme Court exposed that the office of Chief Justice of India also comes under the Right to Information Act. Currently, the Right to Information Act in India is in a crucial stage.
What is Information? According to Section 2(f) of Right to Information Act, 2005 ‘information’ means any material in any form, including records, documents, memos, e-mails, opinions, advice, press releases, circulars, orders, logbooks, contracts, reports, papers, samples, models, data material held in any electronic form and information relating to any private body which can be accessed by a public authority under any other law for the time being in force.
This article exhibits that an applicant under section 6 of the Right to Information Act, 2005 can get any information which exists and accessible to the public authority under law. Under the Right to Information Act, an applicant can get of the opinion, advice, order, but he or she cannot get any information such as why such decision, advice, order, etc. have been passed, especially in judicial matters.
A judge expresses himself by his order or judgement. If any party is not satisfied with the judgement then they get remedy as they can appeal in the higher court or by a revision or any other lawful mode. But no litigant can be allowed to question any judge’s decision. They cannot ask why he gave this decision etc.
What is Right to Information? Under this Act right to information is accessible which is under the control of any public authority. It also includes the right to inspection of work, records, documents, certified copies of documents, copies of material etc. They can be also obtained any information in the form of a floppy disk, video cassette, tape or in any other electronics device like a mobile phone, tablets etc. or through a printout where such information stored in a computer or any other devices.
This right gives the power to obtain any information from a public authority which is regulated by such authority. This right expanse to every piece of information which is public in nature.
What is a Public Authority:- 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 –
(a) by or under the Constitution;
(b) by any other law made by Parliament;
(c) by any other law made by State Legislature;
(d) by notification issued or order made by the appropriate Government, and includes any –
(i) body owned, controlled or substantially financed;
(ii) non-Government organization substantially financed, directly or indirectly by the funds provided by the appropriate Government.
In the case of The Hindu Urban Cooperative Bank Limited and Ors . v. The State Information Commission and Ors., 2011 the Punjab-Haryana High Court held that if a person or a body satisfied all the below mentioned details then it is called 'public authority'. –
1. The institution should be registered and regulated by the provisions of the legislation.
2. The state government has minimum control over the institution through some Acts or Rules.
3. It is extensively financed by the appropriate government directly or indirectly.
4. The objective, aims, preamble and command of provisions of the Right to Information Act should extend to their public dealing.
5. the larger public interest and totality of the other facts and circumstances emanating from the records suggest that such information may be revealed.
Obligations of Public Authority:- Every public authority shall publish within one hundred and twenty days from the enactment of this Act –
1. The particular of the organisation and its function and duties.
2. The authorities and duties of its officers and employees.
3. The procedure followed in the decision-making process, including channels of supervision and accountability.
4. It’s norms set by it for the discharge of its functions.
5. A statement of categories of documents that are held by it or under its control.
6. A guide of its officers and employees.
7. The names, designation and other particulars of the public information officer.
8. Provide reasons for its executive and quasi-judicial to dominate person.
9. Publish all relevant facts when they develop important policies or declare a decision which affects the public.
10. Components in respect of the information, available to or held by it, reduced in an electronic form.
11. Such other information as may be designated and thereafter update these applications every year.
How much Fee has to be paid for the information? A person who wants to get information from the public authority they have to pay Rs. 10/- along with the application. It might vary state to state and some organisations follow their own separate provisions for the payment of fees. The rates of information prescribed in the rules:-
· Information provided by printed form:- At the price fixed for such publication or Rupees two (Rs. 2/-) per page of photocopy for extracts from the publication.
· For the inspection of records:- there is no fee for the first hour and rupees 5/- for the following hours.
For making copies of information:-
· Rupees Two (Rs. 2/-) for each page (A-4 or A-3 size) created or copied,
· Actual charge or cost price of a copy in larger size paper,
· Actual fee or price for samples or models.
For information provided in digital media (disks or floppy) – Rupees Fifty (Rs. 50/-) per diskette or floppy. Floppy drives are outdated now so you may want to insist on information to be provided on CDs.
No fee will be charged to people who live below the poverty line.
Importance of Right to Information Act:-
· This Act gives the opportunity to all the citizens of India to ask for information from any governmental organisation and non-governmental organisations which are partially funded by any of government.
· This law provides an opportunity for individuals with information so that they can defend themselves.
· It provides an arm to fight against corruption.
· This Act gives the citizen a right to ask for the information, and they can decide according to the information that their constitutional rights have been satisfied or not.
Conclusion:- Right to Information Act definitely helps for better governance. But there are some disabilities of this Act in India. It has been 15 years but there is no proper application of this Act in the society because of some reasons like coercion, political influence, threats, less awareness. There are a few amendments in this Act. This Act needs more amendments because it needs to be changed.
 (2011)ILR 2 P&H 64.