Author Profile

Amitra Sudan Chakrabortty

Lecturer in Faculty of Law The ICFAI University of Tripura, India Managing Trustee, M A N A B A Human Rights Organization Asansol,West Bengal, India

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ORIGIN and Meaning of  RIGHT TO INFORMATION

Our country is a democratic country and the persons who runs our Democratic  Government are elected by the people of India . People of India elect them by exercising their voting rights in General election. So the persons running our DEMOCRATIC Government actually derive their powers to run the Government from people of India. And that is why, Every citizen has got the right to know how the Government as well as persons running the Government and the persons working under the authority of the Government is functioning. This Right is known as Right to Information which empowers every citizen to seek any information from the Government and the authorities acting under the authority of the Government. This RIGHT is regarded as OXYGEN of  DEMOCRACY as because exercise of this RIGHT ensures TRANSPARENCY and PREVENTION of CORRUPTIONS in the functioning of the Public Authorities and thereby helps to survive and strengthen the democracy.

Key principle for Effective Exercise of a RIGHT

Before exercising any RIGHT effectively, everybody has to acquire knowledge about  the meaning and Scope including the limitation/s of that particular right as well as the powers of the authority/s who are empowered to protect and ensure the enforcement  of that RIGHT which he is going to exercise .

What is Right To Information Act,2005 ?

It is a Legislation passed by Indian Parliament in the year 2005.This legislation confers STATUTORY STATUS  to  RIGHT TO INFORMATION well as prescribes the procedures necessary to be complied with for the exercise of the aforesaid RIGHT TO INFORMATION. It also provides for the authorities who will facilitate the exercise of the aforesaid RIGHT as well as   penal consequences for that authority, if they fails to facilitate the exercise of that RIGHT.It also mandates constitution of  a CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSION and STATE INFORMATION COMMISSION for EACH STATE which will deal with the cases of denial made by the authorities to facilitate the exercise of the RIGHT TO INFORMATION within the time specified. It also provides for penalty to be imposed on Public Information Officer for unlawful denial of request for information.

Earlier it was only Constitutional Rights under Article 19 of Indian Constitution, but now RTI is both legal and Constitutional Right.

Meaning of “Right to information”

It means the Right of Citizens to access INFORMATION/S held by or under the “PUBLIC AUTHORITY” and includes the right to-

i.inspect work,documents and records;

ii.take notes,extract or certified copies of documents or records;

iii.take samples of materials; and

iv.to obtain the the information in the form of diskettes, floppies, tapes, video cassettes and any any other electronic mode  or through print out where such information is stored in a computer or any other device.

So, here two terms i.e., “Information and Public Authority” are involved in the concept of RIGHT TO INFORMATION.

Meaning of ‘INFORMATION’

The RTI Act has defined the term in a broader sense. According to it, INFORMATION means –

“any material in in any form including records, documents, memos, e-mails, opinions, advices, press releases, circulars, orders, logbooks, contracts, reports, papers, samples, models, data material  held in any electronic form by the public authority and also includes the information’s relating to any private persons which can be accessed legally by the public authority”.

So,the first portion of the meaning of the word ‘Information’ relates to the functioning of public information and last portion relates to the functioning of the private person/third person .Other than public  to which the public authority is legally entitled to have an access.

Meaning of “PUBLIC AUTHORITY”

It means –

Any authority or body or institution of self government established or constituted –

  1. By or under the Constitution of India (e.g., Parliament, Supreme Court, High Court, Central Government, State Government Ministers office, planning commission, Finance commission, ST/SC/OBC commission etc.);
  2. By any other law made by parliament (e.g.,NHRC, SHRC, CIC, SIC, LICI, ONGC, SBI, CENTRAL UNIVERSITY etc.);
  3. By any other law made by state legislature ( ICFAI University, Calcutta University, Burdwan University, Tripura Tourism Corporation etc.);
  4. By notification issued or order made by the appropriate Government;

and includes any

  1. Body owned , controlled or substantially financed, directly or indirectly, by funds provided by the Government, central or State
  2. Non–government organization (NGOS) substantially financed, directly or indirectly, by funds provided by the Government, central or State

Ordinarily Exempted Public Authority

It means the Public authority ,ordinarily which has no obligation to provide/furnish information in response to a RTI request and generally public has no authority to access information/s held by them or information furnished  by them to the Government. Ordinarily Exempted Public Authority means the Central and State Intelligence and Security Organizations, a list of which is provided in Second Schedule in the RTI Act itself

Schedule of Ordinarily Exempted Public Authority

Central Intelligence and security organization

1. Intelligence Bureau.

2. Research and Analysis Wing of the Cabinet Secretariat.

3. Directorate of Revenue Intelligence.

4. Central Economic Intelligence Bureau.

5. Directorate of Enforcement.

6. Narcotics Control Bureau.

7. Aviation Research Centre.

8. Special frontier Force.

9. Border Security Force.

10. Central Reserve Police Force.

11. Indo-Tibetan Border Police.

12. Central Industrial Security Force

13. National Security Guards.

14. Assam Rifles.

15. Special Service Bureau

16. Special Branch (CID), Andaman and Nicobar.

17. The Crime Branch-C.I.D.-CB, Dadra and Nagar Haveli.

18. Special Branch, Lakshadweep Police

When Ordinarily exempted Public Authority is Bound To Respond to RTI Request

1.When RTI request relates to allegations of Corruption in that public Authority; and

2.When RTI request relates to allegations of violation of Human Rights by that  public Authority.

Who are entitled to RTI

* Only the citizens of India have this Right To Information.

* Non-Citizens are not entitled to this Right To Information.

Ordinarily Accessible Information/S

Any INFORMATION which the public authority is bound to furnish/provide to The Information-seeker under the provisions of Right To Information Act, 2005 .

Ordinarily Inaccessible Information

It means  the INFORMATIONS, the disclosure of which are ordinarily exempted. Although a Citizens are entitled/not prevented to make a request for supply of the above Information.

It includes the following information’s:

(a) information, disclosure of which would prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security, strategic, scientific or economic interests of the State, relation with foreign State or lead to incitement of an offence;

(b) information which has been expressly forbidden to be published by any court of law or tribunal or the disclosure of which may constitute contempt of court;

(c) information, the disclosure of which would cause a breach of privilege of Parliament or the State Legislature;

(d) information including commercial confidence, trade secrets or intellectual property, the disclosure of which would harm the competitive position of a third party;

(e) information available to a person in his fiduciary relationship;

(f) information received in confidence from foreign Government;

(g) information, the disclosure of which would endanger the life or physical safety of any person or identify the source of information or assistance given in confidence for law enforcement or security purposes;

(h) information which would impede the process of investigation or apprehension or prosecution of offenders;

(i) cabinet papers including records of deliberations of the Council of Ministers, Secretaries and other officers:

Provided that the decisions of Council of Ministers, the reasons thereof, and the material on the basis of which the decisions were taken shall be made public after the decision has been taken, and the matter is complete, or over;

Access to Ordinarily Inaccessible Information

  • ORDINARILY  INACCESSIBLE INFORMATION can be accessed/disclosed  only if  the person making the request is able to satisfy the public authority that the public interest outweighs the harm of protected interests of non-disclosure.
  • A public authority may allow access to that information/s, if he is satisfied that the public interest which requires the disclosure outweighs the harm to the protected interests of non-disclosure.

Duty of Public Authority

The APPROPRIATE PUBLIC AUTHORITY is bound to do ensure the compliance of the following duties:

1. Maintenance and Computerization of certain information’s including    their dissemination;

2. Publication of certain information’s including their dissemination;

3. Assigning reasons for its decision/s;

4. Appointment of Public Information Officer and First appellate authority.

5. Constitution of Information Commission (Central and State IC)

Maintenance and Computerization of certain information’s

Every Public Authority shall-

a)    maintain maintain all its records duly catalogued and indexed in such a manner and in such form which facilitates the full exercise of the RTI ; and

b)   ensure that the records capable of being  computerized  are, within reasonable time and subject to availability of resources, computerized and connected through a network all over the country so as to ensure the possibility of easy access to such records and thereby facilitates the full exercise of the RTI .

Publication of certain informations

It is the mandatory duty of every public authority to publish suo moto (voluntarily on its own), with in 13th October,2005, the following information’s:

  • the particulars of its organization, functions and duties;
  • the powers and duties of its officers and employees;
  • the procedure followed in the decision making process, including channels of supervision and accountability;
  • the norms set by it for the discharge of its functions
  • the rules, regulations, instructions, manuals and records, held by it or under its control or used by its employees for discharging its functions;
  • a statement of the categories of documents that are held by it or under its control;
  • the particulars of any arrangement that exists for consultation with, or representation by, the members of the public in relation to the formulation of its policy or implementation thereof;
  • a statement of the boards, councils, committees and other bodies consisting of two or more persons constituted as its part or for the purpose of its advice, and as to whether meetings of those boards, councils, committees and other bodies are open to the public, or the minutes of such meetings are accessible for public;
  • a directory of its officers and employees;
  • the monthly remuneration received by each of its officers and employees, including the system of compensation as provided in its regulations;
  • the budget allocated to each of its agency, indicating the particulars of all plans, proposed expenditures and reports on disbursements made;
  • the manner of execution of subsidy programmer  including the amounts allocated and the details of beneficiaries of such programmes.
  • particulars of recipients of concessions, permits or authorizations granted by it;
  • details in respect of the information, available to or held by it, reduced in an electronic form;
  • all relevant facts while formulating important policies or announcing the decisions which affect public

Dissemination Of Information

The Information’s to which above duties are related shall be widely disseminated by the public authority in such form and in such manner which is easily accessible by the public.

Here, the word DISSEMINATED means making known or communicated the information’s to the public through notice board, newspapers, public Announcements, media broadcasts, internet or any other means including inspection of the of the offices of the public authority.

The Information’s to which above duties are related shall be widely disseminated by the public authority in such form and in such manner which is easily accessible by the public.

Here, the word DISSEMINATED means making known or communicated the information’s to the public through notice board, newspapers, public Announcements, media broadcasts, internet or any other means including inspection of the of the offices of the public authority.

Reasoned Decision

Every public authority has to assign reason/s in support of its decision,   whether the decision is administrative, judicial or quasi-judicial to the person against whom the decision is made.

Appointment of   Public Information Officer (PIO) and   First appellate Authority

It is the duty of every public authority to appoint as many public Information Officer as public Information Officer and Assistant public Information Officer in all administrative Units or offices under it for providing information/s to the persons making RTI request.

It is the duty of every  public authority to appoint /designate an officer senior in rank to Public Information Officer as First appellate Authority in all administrative Units or offices under it for accepting and adjudicating  the appeal filed against  order of refusal to supply information/s.

Duty of Public Information Officer (PIO)

General Duty

To pay respect to the Information-Seeker/s at all time and not to misbehave and disrespect at any time with the Information-Seeker/s.

Specific  Duty

  • Duty to guide the Information seeker to exercise his RTI.
  • Duty to transfer the RTI application to the appropriate authority, when the RTI application made to him relates to information/s held by other public authority
  • Duty to ask the information seeker to make payment of necessary fees prescribed for supply of information.
  • Duty to send notice with in Five days from the date of receipt of RTI request to the Third Party.
  • Duty to allow 10 days to the third party for making his representation as to why information relates to him will not be disclosed.
  • Duty to provide Information with in the time specified in RTI Act
  • Generally, within thirty days from the date of receipt of RTI request and with in 40 days when RTI relates to Third Party Information/s and within 45 days when RTI request relates to Human Rights Violation by ordinarily exempted Public authority (Security and Intelligence Organization/s).

BUT IT IS THE DUTY OF PIO TO SUPPLY INFORMATION WITHIN 48 HOUR WHEN RTI REQUEST RELATES TO VIOLATION OF RIGHT TO LIFE AND PERSONALLIBERTY.

Penalty for PIO

When the PIO, without any reasonable cause, refused to receive an RTI application or has not furnished information within the  specified time period or  malafidely denied the request for information or knowingly given incorrect, incomplete or misleading information or destroyed information which was the subject of the RTI request or obstructed in any manner in furnishing the information, the appropriate  Information Commission  has got the power to impose  impose a penalty of two hundred and fifty rupees each day till the date of  furnishing of information  and IC can impose maximum fine of  Rs.25,000/ and IC also empowered to direct DISCIPLINARY ACTION against that public authority.

But before making any order in this respect, the appropriate  Information Commission  is bound to hear the PIO.

How to Exercise RTI

Steps 1 – Making and Submitting RTI application

Make an RTI application by writing the matter/s in respect of which  you are seeking information and submit it along with the prescribed fees(Generally,Rs.10 in the in the form of cash payment or Indian Postal Order or Court Fee as has been prescribed by the competent authority) addressing to the PIO of the public authority to which your RTI request relates with his office address .

Steps 2 – Prefer First Appeal

When the PIO rejected the RTI application and when the PIO fails to supply Information within the specified time period, then you have to prefer an appeal detailing the fact of the cases of refusal of your RTI application within THIRTY DAYS from the date of refusal of RTI application

First Appellate Authority is bound to dispose of the appeal  normally within 30 day and maximum within 45 day by specifying reasons for it  from the date of receipt of the appeal.

Steps 3 – Prefer Second Appeal

When the First Appellate Authority rejected the appeal, then you have to prefer an appeal before the appropriate Information commission within NINETY DAYS from the date on which you have received the order of the First Appellate Authority

Second Appellate Authority is bound to dispose of the appeal normally within 30 day and maximum within 45 day by specifying reasons for it from the date of receipt of the appeal.

Step 4 – Prefer Appeal to High court or Supreme Court

If you are aggrieved by the order of the of the Information Commission, then you may prefer an appeal against the order of the Information Commission under article 226 or  32 of our Constitution  to High Court or Supreme Court respectively  exercising the constitutional right to information which derives from article 19 of our Indian Constitution.

A REQUEST

Exercise your RIGHT TO INFORMATION as to ensure accountability and prevention of corruption in the public functioning to strengthen our DEMOCRACY.

Help Desk

Seek Co-operation, if you find any problem in exercising your RIGHT TO INFORMATION from me at:

asc_law@yahoo.com

manabhrprotector@gmail.com


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9 Comments on "HOW TO EXERCISE YOUR RIGHT TO INFORMATION"

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jayant dagore
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I have requested several times if NRI’s have the right to seek any info.under the RTI ACT AFTER THE DECISION FROM THE HON’BLE supreme court in the matter of Dr.Kunal Saha ,ohio ,usa.please let me know as soon as possible.thanks

Kndan jha
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My gradfather had a land but we have no plot no,khata no,& khasara no but know that village only where they lived.Now i want to know about that land that is our or captured by others.Please suggest right suggestion to take my own land……

Sanjeev kumar
Guest

Dear sir/madam;
My greand father was a employee of irigation dept.but after his death before 35 years but after spending alots of time my father did get that job.so please suggest Is it possiable or not ?if yes than how ?

AJUAL
Guest

DEAR FRIENDS I WANT TO TELL YOU THAT NARC SHIPPING IS A CHEATER FRAUAD MOTHER FUCKER PERSON ARJUN SINGH IS THERE HE IS MAKE FRAUD BY THAAT WE ARE MAKING PANAMA COC AND ALL HE IS DOING ALL BULSHIT HIS CO PARTNER IS COCMOS MARITIME DEHRADUN ALSO PLEASE BE AWRE THIS PEOPLE.

kishan
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Sir ,
I want to know that if a person wants to seek information of 30 years ago. Will the authority provide the inforamtion ? if not where to approach. please advice

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