• Legis Scriptor

Right to know under article 19

Authored by Ishaanvi

Keywords: fundamental right, transparency, corruption.


The Right to information is undeniably a fundamental right. It is an aspect of “right to speech and expression” as provided in art 19(1) (a). Right to know has increased the effectiveness of decision making process and has set transparency and persuades accountability in the working of public department. The curtailment in corruption in public department is due to the implementation of Right to Information Act, 2005.This right includes freedom to hold outlooks without interference and to seek, receive and proclaim information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.


To provide freedom to every citizen to access official information the freedom of Information Act was passed in 2002. It furthers openness, transparency and accountability in administration and relevance to matters connected therewith and incidental thereto. This act was amended in 2005 extending its provision to center/ state governments, panchayats, local bodies, recipients of governments and other related matters.

Right to know is a part of the right to speech and expression provided by the Article 19(1) (a) of the constitution of India. Everyone has a fundamental right to access information. The state must protect their fundamental rights. But it is also required to provide the opportunities under which this right can be effectively enjoyed by everyone. It is relevant to state here that a true democracy can’t exist unless all citizens have a right to participate in the public functioning.

Right to know a constitutional perspective

The right can be classified in this way.[1]

A) Article 19(1)(a) :freedom to Speech and expression.

B) Article 21-

C) Right to information Act,2005

Article 19(1) (a) assures to every citizen the freedom of speech and expression and shall be read with clause(2) which authorizes the state to put reasonable restrictions on the following grounds:

a. Security of the state

b. Amiable relationship with foreign states

c. Public order

d. Decency and morality

e. Contempt of court

f. Defamation

g. Indictment to an offence

h. Integrity and sovereignty of India[2]

Freedom to speech and expression are considered to be basic and inseparable for a democratic polity, the citizens most cherished and scared right, the prized privilege, it is known to be a cornerstone of functioning of democracy.

It’s the foundation of a democratic society. It’s essential to the rule of law and liberty of citizen’s. The public discussion with people involvement is a basic aspect and rational process of democracy, which differentiates it from all other forms of government.

Constitutional Perspective of RTI

Article 39 (a) (b) (c) of the constitution make provisions for adequate means of livelihood, equitable distribution of material resources of community to check concentration of wealth and means of production.

In Bombay environmental group & others V. Pune cantonment board, the supreme court of India observed that “real democracy can’t be worked by men sitting at the top. It has to be worked from below by the people of every villages and town. For this everyone‘s participation at all levels is a must.

RTI in other Countries

The first RTI law was enacted in 1766 by Sweden, chiefly motivated by the parliament’s interest in access to information held by the King. Finland then adopted in 1953, followed by the United States, who enacted its first law in 1966, and Norway, which legalized its laws in 1970.[3] As held in the several cases held by the supreme court including in Secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting V. Cricket Association. o Bengal (1995) (2) SCC 161, SC while taking into account of news print control order, allotment of news print to newspaper was prohibited held that such restriction had not only flouted news paper’s right to freedom of speech but also readers right to read was cut down. The readers right to access the newspapers was their right to information which was implicit in the right to freedom of speech and expression

Along with article 19(1) (a), the other articles that reassure right to information under Indian constitution are articles 311(2) and 22(1). Article 311(2) provides for a government employee to make out. On the other side article 22(1) states a person can know the grounds for his detention. In a salient case, the SC held that right to information emerges from right to personal liberty guaranteed by article 21 of constitution.

Rights available under Right to Information Act 2005

It empowers everyone to

· Seek and receive information from the government and other public authorities.

· Ask them certain questions.

· Take copies, including certified copies of documents.

· Inspect documents.

· Inspect works.

· Take sample of material.

· Right to Information Law Contains


Right to information (RTI) is practiced as a tool for urging participatory development, strengthening democratic governance and facilitating effective delivery of Socio-economic services. In this contemporary society, acquisition of information and new knowledge and its application have intense and pervasive impact on processes of making informed decision. Right to Information Act 2005, is considered as the best tool for bringing better governance in the society.

This right 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. Right to Information means the right to have access to information associated with a legal right of any person. This information can be in the form of records, files, registers, maps, data, drawings, reports etc. This implies that a positive duty is cast on a person to give certain types of information without waiting to be asked for it. This would include information on issues relating projects that directly affect the people or the environment, information on health, agriculture, weather conditions etc.





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