Author : N.Manasa Reddy
Right to Information (RTI) is the right of every citizen in India. Student is also a citizen of India. As applicability of RTI is vast, so the object of the paper is confined to students so that students could gain their entitled information and secure admissions in educational institutions of their choice.
IMPORTANCE OF INFORMATION:
In the present day public activity, information is an essential part and it helps in taking right decisions in right time. Securing information is a right of every citizen and providing information is a duty of every public official. “Information” is now a Fundamental Right as held in a Supreme Court case ( S.C. Technology and National Resources Policy Vs Union of India 2007(11)scale75). Therefore, denial of information to any person by a public authority leads to infringement of Fundamental Right.
Information is useful to students in many ways like information relating to cut off marks in admissions in educational institutions, cut off marks in competitive exams etc. Under RTI Act , every student has a right to know the functioning of every Public Authority i.e. universities and other educational institutions, which are also declared as Public Authorities.
WHAT IS PUBLIC AUTHORITY:
According to section 2(h), of RTI 2005, “public authority” means any authority or body 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 included any –
– body owned , controlled or substantially financed
– non-government organization substantially financed directly or indirectly by funds provided by the appropriate governments
In several cases, High Courts in India have held that educational institutions also come under the definition of Public Authority. Under RTI Act , it is held that schools and colleges receiving grants from government are Public Authorities. The government institutions and the authorities set up under the notification issued by the government in exercise of their executive power or owned or financed or controlled by the government are also come under the definition of Public Authority. It means universities and other educational institutions are Public Authorities, therefore, every student is entitled to receive the information relating to his education.
WHAT IS INFORMATION :
According to section 2(f) , “information” means any material in form , including records , documents, memos, e-mails, opinions, advices, press releases, circulars, orders, log books, 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 law for the time being in force.
But all information cannot be given, there are some restrictions in providing information and there are some exemptions under RTI, under which Information cannot be given.
WHAT ARE THE EXEMPTIONS AND RESTRICTIONS :
Under section 8 of RTI Act, there are certain exemptions given in RTI Act pertaining to national security , integrity , sovereignty , intellectual property of country , and as regards students are concerned information relating to evaluation of marks in answer sheet was restricted, but with a recent Supreme Court Judgement that evaluated answer books are open documents, the examining bodies will have to permit inspections sought by the examinees, with limited restrictions like those portions of answer books which contain information regarding the examinee or which may disclose identity with reference to signature or initials shall be removed , covered or otherwise severed from the answer book under section 10 of RTI Act.
DYNAMICS- WORKING :
The main essence of RTI Act is to provide information within a specified time, failure to provide information to any citizen, in a specified time limit attracts penalties besides disciplinary action to any public official.
Under section 6 of RTI Act, any person who desires to obtain information shall make a request to the Central Public Information Officer CPIO) or the State Public Information Officer (SPIO) of the concerned public authority as the case may be. The Public Information Officer (PIO) should provide the required information within 30 days to the applicant if the applicant is not satisfied with the information given or if information is not furnished, then applicant may either file a complaint under section 18(1) directly to the Information Commission or he may appeal to 1st Appellate authority under section 19(1) for not receiving the information from PIO. If the applicant files an appeal under 19(1) and if he is not satisfied with the information given or if the information is not provided, then the applicant may within 90 days (from the date on which the decision should have been made or actually received) file 2nd appeal under section 19(3) to the Information Commissioners. Then the Information Commission calls the case for hearing, and gives its decision depending upon the facts of the case.
Under Section 11 of the RTI Act provides procedure for disclosure of “third party information.” In case a student wants to seek information pertaining to know the marks secured by the topper ( third party) in entrance exam, it is mandatory to give notice to third party and only with the permission of third party, the information can be provided as held in Arvind Kejriwal vs Central Public Information Officer (PIO).
It is a story of student RTI activist who has enforced attendance of school teacher. There’s a teacher in a remote village in Tehri district of Uttarakhand State who was not attending the school regularly. A student, Mahavir who heard a lecture on RTI, became RTI activist. He was vexed with the irregular attendance of the teacher and he filed an application under RTI requesting the officials of the Educational Department “to inform the number of days the teacher attended the school during the last 3 years.” The district officials enquired into the matter and it was found that the teacher was not properly attending school. The District Educational Officer warned the teacher. Since then, teacher was regular in attending the school. In this way RTI enforces attendance of the teacher and helps in academic excellence of the students.
Like others, Students have the right to know the functioning of every public authority. They should make use of RTI Act in all their streams of life and improve their career prospects in such a way that they contribute to the national development. Now civil societies and the Governments are also creating awareness campaigns on utility of RTI and rightful usage of RTI which paves the way for good governance of our country.
- karnataka H.C,AIR2006(NOC)145(Kant)
- Bombay H.C,AIR2011(NOC)Bom.137
- Karnataka H.C,AIR2006(NOC)145(Kant)
- Central Board of Secondary Education and Aur vs Aditya Bandopadhyary and ors.
- 18(1) :it is the duty Information Commission to receive and inquire into a complaint from any person.
- 19(1) :any person who does not receive the information within the time specified , then the person may appeal to an officer who is in senior rank to PIO.
- 19(3) : Second appeal shall lie within 90days from the date on which the decision should have actually made or actually received with the Information Commission.
- Arvind Kejriwal vs Central PIO and Aur(20011)105CLA67(delhi).
- source eenadu 12 october- annual report 2010 A.P.. Information Commission page 48