Rafale: Official Secret Act Vs Right To Information.

The government is focusing on whether or not documents released in the media are ‘secret’, without going into their veracity. For discovering an incriminating document from the defence department, a journalist is threatened. For attaching those documents to public interest litigation, a lawyer is threatened with prosecution under the Official Secrets Act. The battle is now between the freedom of speech and official secrecy. Can official deals, if wrongful, be protected under the curtains of secrecy? In the wake of resistance and criticism from media bodies and the public, the attorney general said the government had no intention of prosecuting journalists and lawyers for using the ‘documents’.

Then-Centre filed an affidavit on March 13, 2019 stating that those who leaked were guilty of penal offences including theft. It was claimed that annexed notes were marked ‘secret’, and exempted from disclosure even under the Right to Information Act. It also raised a point under the Evidence Act, on the use of evidence derived from unpublished official records relating to the affairs of the state without permission.

These claims reflect the intention to attack the review petition on technical grounds, without condemning the veracity of the contents that strengthen allegations. First of all, it is not a trial in which admissibility of evidence need to be thoroughly examined; the government can raise those points in the trial that happens after the investigation the petitioners are seeking. The facts of the case have to be considered to decide whether a probe should be ordered. The second point is on the documents being marked ‘secret’. Which part of the deal is secret, and why? The test established by the Supreme Courts of India and the US in several cases to withhold a document as secret is the doctrine of ‘clear and present’ danger. The Pentagon Papers case in the US and Raj Narain’s case against Indira Gandhi in India, the Supreme Courts laid down the norm that the danger should be so clear that secrecy needs to be maintained. In Pentagon Papers, failures of the US Army in Vietnam were leaked by the New York Times, Washington Post and others. The US government wanted to prevent newspapers from publishing these reports, citing ‘national security’. In the Raj Narain case, the Centre was refusing to share the blue book for the then prime minister’s visit during electioneering, even many years after the event. The Centre has a duty to explain how a dissent note from three negotiators would pose a clear and present danger to ‘security’.

To say that this document could not have been disclosed even under RTI Act is legally not tenable, because the RTI Act provided for disclosure of defence details and information from exempted organisations as well in the context of corruption and human rights violation. The political executive cannot use the Official Secrets Act and a ‘national security’ defence, without justifying them, to hide the truth and prevent a probe. The very origins of the Official Secrets Act was to muzzle the voice of the opposition and criticism. The pre-independence 1923 Official Secrets Act promotes secrecy and confidentiality around ‘governance’. It is shocking that attorney general, representing the Centre, said the prosecution had stolen ‘secret’ documents and pleaded with the Supreme Court not to consider the stolen parts of the deal papers.

The review of the apex court’s December 14 decision will have very serious implications because the petitioners – Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie and Prashant Bhushan – are seeking an FIR against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and others involved in the Rafale deal. Relying largely on documents published in the media, the petitioners want the Supreme Court to reverse their conclusion about the absence of alleged commercial favouritism, because certain critical information was suppressed from judicial scrutiny.

The AG attacked the review petition, claiming the documents were stolen and then attached to the petition before the bench, which means the petitioners are involved. It is in this context that the threat of prosecution under the Official Secrets Act has to be examined. Though the AG has retreated from this threat, it has stirred a debate about practical application of provisions of the Official Secrets Act, because of their inconsistency with the Right to Information Act, 2005. One must see how official secrets are valid when transparency is the law and disclosure the rule.

Secrecy is now an exception.

More than a threat to the freedom of press and due process, the use and abuse of the Official Secrets Act threatens good governance and promotes corruption. Culture of secrecy As rightly observed by the Second Administrative Reforms Commission, the Official Secrets Act is founded on colonial mistrust of people and primacy of officials who deal with citizens. The culture of secrecy was established through this draconian law. The commission’s recommendation to repeal it was rejected. In 2017, a committee of the cabinet secretariat recommended making the Act more transparent, at least. That was not acted on. On the one hand, the government fills information commissions with former bureaucrats to discourage disclosure, and on the other promotes the use of the Official Secrets Act.

The pre-independence Congress party had resolved to repeal the Act, but every party including the Congress has used it to stifle voices. When it is used in the forum of the Supreme Court to stall a probe into the Rafale deal, the public must doubt the commitment to transparency and zero tolerance of corruption. Every document is not a secret and every leak is not a crime under the Official Secrets Act. Criminality lies in “intending to benefit enemy country directly or indirectly”. Sections 3 and 5 of the Act refer to making or accessing a sketch, plan, model or note or document which is useful to the enemy or wrongfully communicating it, which is likely to affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, security of state or friendly relations with foreign state.

The Act does not define ‘secrecy’

The most interesting factor is that the Officials Secrets Act does not define ‘secret’ or ‘official secret’, and does not provide a ‘classification’ of documents. The Manual of Departmental Security Instruction (MODSI) of the Ministry of Defence has laid down procedures and criterion for classification of documents as ‘top secret’, ‘secret’ and ‘confidential’. Papers containing vital information which cannot be disclosed for reasons of national security are classified as ‘top secret’, and these must not be disclosed to anyone for whom they are not essential. Such papers include references to current or future military operations, intending movements or disposition of armed forces, shaping of secret methods of war, matters of high international and internal political policy, ciphers and reports derived from secret sources of intelligence.

 

Right to Information Act 2005

An Act to provide for setting out the practical regime of right to information for citizens to secure access to information under the control of public authorities, in order to promote transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority, the constitution of a Central Information Commission and State Information Commissions and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

Whereas the Constitution of India has established Democratic Republic;

And whereas democracy requires an informed citizenry and transparency of information which are vital to its functioning and also to contain corruption and to hold Governments and their instrumentalities accountable to the governed;

And whereas revelation of information in actual practice is likely to conflict with other public interests including efficient operations of the Governments, optimum use of limited fiscal resources and the preservation of confidentiality of sensitive information;

And whereas it is necessary to harmonize these conflicting interests while preserving the paramountcy of the democratic ideal;

Now, therefore, it is expedient to provide for furnishing certain information to citizens who desire to have it.

The Right to Information Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha in December 2004. It was passed by both the houses of Parliament in May 2005. The assent of the President was received on 15th June and the Act was notified in ‘The Gazette of India ‘on 21st June, 2005. The Right to Information Act will become operational by the 12th October 2005. The Freedom of Information Act passed by the Parliament in 2002 has been repealed.

The Right to Information Act (RTI Act) shall cover all the establishments as defined under Article 12 of the Indian Constitution (‘Sarbajit Roy Vs. DERC’ 30/11/2006) unless until expressly exempted by the RTI Act 2005.

{ State as provided under Article 12 of the Constitution has four components:

( a ) The Government and Parliament of India- Government means any department or institution of department. Parliament shall consist of the President, the House of People and Council of State.

( b ) The Government and Legislature of each State- State Legislatures of each State consist of the Governor, Legislative Council and Legislative Assembly or any of them.

( c ) Local Authorities within the territory of India- Authority means.

( i ) Power to make rules, bye- laws, regulations, notifications and statutory orders.

( ii ) Power to enforce them.

Local Authority means Municipal Boards, Panchayat, Body of Port Commissioners and others legally entitled to or entrusted by the government, municipal or local fund.

( d ) Other Authorities

Authorities other than local authorities working

( i ) Within the territory of India or;

( ii ) Outside the territory of India.}

More specifically it includes all levels of government Centre, State, district and local self governing bodies like Panchayat and Municipal bodies. It will also cover non-governmental organizations- i.e. NGOs and other private bodies- that are financed substantially with public finds provided by the Government. This means every citizen has the right to put in an application requesting information or copies of records held by these bodies and such information should be given by the concerned body.

 

The citizens’ right to information is not explicitly mentioned in the fundamental rights chapter of the Constitution. But in many cases the Supreme Court of India has declared that the fundamental right to life and liberty [Art.21] and the fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression [Art.19 (1)] include every citizen’s fundamental right to access information. Parliament passed the RTI Act to enable all citizens to use their fundamental right to access information from public bodies.

 

The main objectives of the RTI Act are –

  •  To promote transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority and,
  •  To set up a practical regime for giving citizens access to information that is under the control of public authorities.
  •  To project the policies and programs of the Government to the people and to inform them about the plans and schemes formulated for their benefit.
  • To educate the people about the fundamental national values, like democracy, socialism and secularism and to reinforce their faith in them through constant personal contacts.
  • To establish rapport with the people at the grass root level for their active participation in the developmental activities, as also to mobilize public opinion in favour of implementation of welfare and developmental programs.
  • To gather people’s reactions on the programs and policies of the Government and their implementation and to report them back for appropriate and corrective action by the Government. The Directorate thus acts as two-way channel of communication between the Government and the people.
  • As a step to proactively disclose required information regarding the duties and day-to-day functioning of every establishment coming under the Right to Information Act a Information Manual has to prepared in line with the provision of Sec. 4 in the RTI Act 2005 and where in there is no separate Manual prepared under Section 4 of the RTI Act 2005, then the main RTI Act shall be applicable to that establishment.
  • The main objective of the manual is to proactively publish to the maximum extent of information that will be of interest to the common people so that the need for requesting information becomes minimal. This is in accordance to Sec.4 of RTI Act 2005.
  • This proactive disclosure of information is aimed at providing to the common people the kinds of information that common people; ordinarily seek while approaching the different offices of the Board.
  • With a view to providing adequate information to the common people easily, categories of information are listed and the same is disclosed in the manual so as to bring down to a minimum their need for seeking information through applications.
  • The information contained in these manuals is intended for the convenience of the common people who desire for information relating to the functioning, duties and performance. Important information is made accessible for the public though the manual.

The Act specifies that citizens have a right to:

• request any information (as defined).

• obtain copies of documents.

• inspect documents, works and records.

• take certified samples of materials of work.

• obtain information in form of diskettes, floppies, tapes, video cassettes ‘or in any other electronic mode’ or through printouts.

Under the Act, all authorities covered must appoint their Public Information Officer (PIO). Any person may submit a request to the PIO for information in writing. It is the PIO’s obligation to provide information to citizens of India who request information under the Act. If the request pertains to another public authority (in whole or part) it is the PIO’s responsibility to transfer/forward the concerned portions of the request to a PIO of the other within 5 days. In addition, every public authority is required to designate Assistant Public Information Officers (APIOs) to receive RTI requests and appeals for forwarding to the PIOs of their public authority. The applicant is not required to disclose any information or reasons other than his name and contact particulars to seek the information.

The Act specifies time limits for replying to the request.

• If the request has been made to the PIO, the reply is to be given within 30 days of receipt.

• If the request has been made to an APIO, the reply is to be given within 35 days of receipt.

• If the PIO transfers the request to another public authority (better concerned with the information requested), the time allowed to reply is 30 days but computed from the day after it is received by the PIO of the transferee authority.

• Information concerning corruption and Human Rights violations by scheduled Security agencies (those listed in the Second Schedule to the Act) is to be provided within 45 days but with the prior approval of the Central Information Commission.

• However, if life or liberty of any person is involved, the PIO is expected to reply within 48 hours.

Since the information is to be paid for, the reply of the PIO is necessarily limited to either denying the request (in whole or part) and/or providing a computation of “further fees”. The time between the reply of the PIO and the time taken to deposit the further fees for information is excluded from the time allowed.

If information is not provided within this period, it is treated as deemed refusal. Refusal with or without reasons may be ground for appeal or complaint. Further, information not provided in the times prescribed is to be provided free of charge.

For Central Departments as of 2006, there is a fee of Rs.10/- for filing the request, Rs.2/- per page of information and Rs.5/- for each hour of inspection after the first hour. If the applicant is a Below Poverty Card holder, then no fee shall apply. Such BPL Card holders have to provide a copy of their BPL card along with their application to the Public Authority. States Government and High Courts fix their own rules.

The Act specifies the appeal to the request not provided. (Section 18 &19)

It shall be the duty of the Central Information Commission or State Information Commission, as the case may be, to receive and inquire into a complaint from any person,— who has been unable to submit a request to a Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, either by reason that no such officer has been appointed under this Act, or because the Central Assistant Public Information Officer or State Assistant Public Information Officer, as the case may be, has refused to accept his or her application for information or appeal under this Act for forwarding the same to the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer or senior officer specified in sub-section (1) of section 19 or the Central Information Commission or the State Information Commission, as the case may be

who has been unable to submit a request to a Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, either by reason that no such officer has been appointed under this Act, or because the Central Assistant Public Information Officer or State Assistant Public Information Officer, as the case may be, has refused to accept his or her application for information or appeal under this Act for forwarding the same to the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer or senior officer specified in sub-section (1) of section 19 or the Central Information Commission or the State Information Commission, as the case may be;

  • who has been refused access to any information requested under this Act;
  •  who has not been given a response to a request for information or access to information within the time limit specified under this Act;
  •  who has been required to pay an amount of fee which he or she considers unreasonable
  •  who believes that he or she has been given incomplete, misleading or false information under this Act; and
  •  Where the Central Information Commission or State Information Commission, as the case may be, is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to inquire into the matter, it may initiate an inquiry in respect thereof.
  •  The Central Information Commission or State Information Commission, as the case may be, shall, while inquiring into any matter under this section, have the same powers as are vested in a civil court while trying a suit under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908
  •  If the Information is not received by a person with in the time prescribes as mentioned above an appeal can be preferred to the appellate authority and the Appellate authority will be a senior person in rank of the same department with 30 days from the date of actual date of receiving information, The Appellate authority may receive the appeal even after 30 days if it is satisfied the delay was not deliberate (Section 19).
  •  If the Appellate authority is of the opinion that the PIO as the case may be, has, without any reasonable cause, refused to receive an application for information or has not furnished information within the time specified under sub-section (1) of section 7 or malafidely denied the request for information or knowingly given incorrect, incomplete or misleading information or destroyed information which was the subject of the request or obstructed in any manner in furnishing the information, it shall impose a penalty of two hundred and fifty rupees each day till application is received or information is furnished, so however, the total amount of such penalty shall not exceed twenty-five thousand rupees.

The Act specifies Exclusions to the request.

Central Intelligence and Security agencies specified in the Second Schedule like IB, RAW, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Central Economic Intelligence Bureau, Directorate of Enforcement, Narcotics Control Bureau, Aviation Research Centre, Special Frontier Force, BSF, CRPF, ITBP, CISF, NSG, Assam Rifles, Special Service Bureau, Special Branch (CID), Andaman and Nicobar, The Crime Branch-CID-CB, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Special Branch, Lakshadweep Police. Agencies specified by the State Governments through a Notification will also be excluded. The exclusion, however, is not absolute and these organizations have an obligation to provide information pertaining to allegations of corruption and human rights violations. Further, information relating to allegations of human rights violation could be given but only with the approval of the Central or State Information Commission

The following is exempt from disclosure [S.8)]

• 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 offense;

• 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;

• Information, the disclosure of which would cause a breach of privilege of Parliament or the State Legislature;

• Information including commercial confidence, trade secrets or intellectual property, the disclosure of which would harm the competitive position of a third party, unless the competent authority is satisfied that larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information;

• Information available to a person in his fiduciary relationship, unless the competent authority is satisfied that the larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information;

• Information received in confidence from foreign Government;

• 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;

• Information which would impede the process of investigation or apprehension or prosecution of offenders;

• Cabinet papers including records of deliberations of the Council of Ministers, Secretaries and other officers;

• Information which relates to personal information the disclosure of which has no relationship to any public activity or interest, or which would cause unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the individual (but it is also provided that the information which cannot be denied to the Parliament or a State Legislature shall not be denied by this exemption);

• Notwithstanding any of the exemptions listed above, a public authority may allow access to information, if public interest in disclosure outweighs the harm to the protected interests. (NB: This provision is qualified by the proviso to sub-section 11(1) of the Act which exempts disclosure of “trade or commercial secrets protected by law” under this clause when read along with 8(1)(d))

Role of the government

Section 26 of the Act enjoins the central government, as also the state governments of the Union of India (excluding J&K), to initiate necessary steps to:

• Develop educational programs for the public especially disadvantaged communities on RTI.

• Encourage Public Authorities to participate in the development and organization of such programs.

• Promote timely dissemination of accurate information to the public.

• Train officers and develop training materials.

• Compile and disseminate a User Guide for the public in the respective official language.

• Publish names, designation postal addresses and contact details of PIOs and other information such as notices regarding fees to be paid, remedies available in law if request is rejected etc.

NOTE ON RIGHT TO INFORMATION

Dhawesh Pahuja

In modern India where politics plays a vital role, Corruption among the Public Officials is growing with a high speed day by day. To bring transparency and openness for the citizens to know about their Governmentary System and its administrative functions, the Government of India repealed ‘Freedom of Information Act, 2002’ and passed a new legislation ‘Right To Information Act, 2005’ called as one of the best transparency laws in the world.

The main aim of ‘Right To Information Act, 2005’ is to ensure accountability in the workings of every public authorities by providing access to information to the citizens and to bring reduction in corruption. As preamble itself speaks that the RTI Act was enacted to promote transparency and accountability in the working of every Public Authority in order to strengthen the core constitutional values of a democratic republic. One of the main purposes is also to make the government free from corruption and arbitrariness. This act has its wider scope in the country like India where almost all the public officials are involved in the cases of corruption.

The Right and Duty/Obligation are correlated to each other. Every citizen of India has right to seek information from the public officer if needed, that is by filing a request or application and it is the duty of public officer to provide such an information without any failure. The right and duty are correlated to each other as two faces of the same coin. When the right is claimed by one person, the obligation arises on the other side.

‘Right’ means a well-founded claim which can always be implied by the nature of the human being. If the claim is founded or given by law, it is a legal right. Men are by their inherent nature moral and social beings, they have therefore mutual claim upon one another. Generally correlation of legal right is legal duty.

‘Information’ means only that information which is recorded in a material form not in a oral form and includes records, documents, memos, e-mails, opinions, advices, press releases, circulars, orders, logbooks, contracts, reports, papers, samples, models, data material held in any electronic form and information relating to private body which can easily be accessed by the public authority. Information asked should always be administrative in nature.

‘Right To Information’ is a statutory right conferred on the citizens of India which is equivalent to the right to freedom of speech and expression given under Article- 19(1) (a) of the Indian Constitution. Even Corporates and Associations can avail the information from the public authorities but only through the individuals who constitute their management. If the concerned public authority is failed in providing sufficient information then Public Information Officer can be penalized for such offence.

Public Authority means any authority or body or institution which is established by the government and set up under the Indian Constitution.

Procedure for obtaining information: The person, who is willing to obtain any information from the public officer, shall make a request to the Public Information Officer in writing under Form- A or through electronic means. For this he has to pay Rs: 20 by treasury challan and cash. Similarly a sum of Rs: 15 will be charged per hour, or any fraction thereof, to inspect the documents. The cost of photocopying one page has been fixed at Rs: 5, for computer printout Rs: 10 per page and for CDs and Floppies Rs: 100 per piece. The name of the person must be included while requesting for the information, though reason for requesting information need not be stated. Firstly the application should be filed before the Assistant Public Officer and he will transmit the application within 5 days to the Public Information Officer, who has to dispose the application within 30 days. A prescribed fee as above stated should be paid to the public authority along with the application for seeking information. If the accurate information is not provided then complaint or application or appeal can be filed to Central/ State Information Commission. For First Appeal Rs: 40 and for Second Appeal Rs: 50 will also be charged. Public Information Officer is bound to find out sources and availability of the information. Frivolous information will not be entertained by the public authority.

Madhya Pradesh was the only first state in India to become actively engaged in securing the Right to Information for the public in October 1996. After which many states have brought out the act into force in the state.

Exemption from disclosure of information:

a) Information which affect the sovereignty and integrity of India.

b) Information which has been expressely forbidden by any court of law.

c) Information, if disclosed will lead to breach of privilege of parliament.

d) Information, if endangers lives of the whistle blowers.

e) Information received in confidence from foreign countries.

f) Information containing commercial and trade secrets.

If there is failure on the part of Public Information Officer in providing information and that too without any reasonable cause then penalty in the form of fine can be imposed which will be Rs: 250/- per day but should not extend to Rs/- 25000.

 

Case Study:

1. The Central Board of Secondary Education and Another V/S Aditya Bandopadhyay and Others (AIR 2011 SCW 4888)

According to this case question before the court was whether the answer book of a ‘Student’ is a document under ‘Right to Information Act, 2005’. The Court held that when a candidate participate in an examination and submits its answer book containing answers to the examining body for evaluation and declaration of the result, the answer book is a document or record. The evaluated book of the Student is the opinion of the examiner and it can also be considered as ‘information’ under Section: 2 (f) & (i) of the Act.

2. Vijay Prakash V/S Union of India (AIR 2010 DEL 7)

According to this case it is stated that the disclosures of service records of a public servant sought by husband so as to establish his case in matrimonial proceedings. The court held that it shall not be permissible under Section: 8 of the ‘Right to Information Act, 2005’

 

Domestic Implementation of Human Rights

Human RightsKAUSHIK DHAR

1. UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND INDIAN CONSTITUTION

India was a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Indian constitution was adopted by the constituent Assembly on Dec 26, 1949, which came into force from Jan 26, 1950. Our Indian constitution was greatly influenced by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948. Provisions of Part III which stands for Fundamental Rights and Part IV for Directive Principles of State Policy bear a close resemblance to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. As a result, a number of fundamental rights guaranteed in Part III of the Indian Constitution are similar to the provision of Declaration.

Name of the Rights Universal Declaration Indian Constitution

Equality before law Art. 7 Art. 14

Prohibition of discrimination Art. 7 Art. 15(1)

Equality of opportunity Art 21(2) Art. 16(1)

Freedom of speech and expression Art. 19 Art.19(1)(a)

Freedom of peaceful assembly Art. 20(1) Art. 19(1)(b)

Right to form association or unions Art. 23(4) Art. 19(1)(c)

Freedom of movement within the border Art. 13(1) Art19(1)(d)

Protection in respect of conviction for offencesArt.11(2) Art. 20(1)

Protection of life and personal liberty Art. 9 Art. 21

Protection of slavery and forced labour Art. 4 Art. 23

Freedom of conscience and religion Art. 18 Art. 25(1)

Freedom of enforcement of rights Art. 8 Art. 32

The above chart shows that the Universal Declaration which was adopted just before the Indian Constitution widely held to have provided the model for Indian Constitution human rights guarantees. It appears that the founders of the Constitution were conscious about the contents of the Declaration and therefore they gave due recognition to its provisions.

In Kesavananda Bharati vs State of Kerala (AIR 1973 SC 1461), the Supreme Court observed that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights may not be a legally binding instrument but it shows how India understood the nature of the Human Rights at the time the Constitution was adopted. Thus, although the Supreme Court has stated that the Declaration cannot create a binding set of rules and even international treaties may at best inform judicial institutions and inspire legislative action, constitutional interpretation in India has been strongly influenced by the Declaration.

In Chairman, Railway Board and others v Mrs. Chandrima Das (AIR 2000 SC 988), the Supreme Court observed that the Declaration has the international recognition as the “Moral code of Conduct” having been adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations. In a number of cases the Declaration has been referred to in the decisions of the Supreme Court and High Courts.

DOMESTIC IMPLEMENTATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS

India has ratified the International covenant on Civil and Political Rights and International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights on March 27, 1979. By ratification it has established on the international plane its consent to be bound by them. It has an obligation to provide to the individuals the rights contained in the two Covenants.

3. COVENANT ON CIVIL & POLITICAL RIGHTS AND THE INDIAN CONSTITUTION

The Indian constitution provides a number of rights which are called ‘fundamental rights’. The expression ‘fundamental rights’ denotes that these rights are inherent in all human beings and they are required for blossoming of the human personality and soul. These rights have been given a place of pride in the Constitution. These rights are therefore necessary to protect the dignity of individual and to create conditions in which a person can develop to the fullest extent.

In A.D.M., Jabalpur v Shukla (AIR 1976 SC 1207), Beg J. Observed that the object of making certain rights as fundamental as to guarantee them from the illegal invasion by executive, legislature and judicial organ of the state. The Supreme Court of India has recognised these fundamental rights as ‘natural rights’ or ‘human rights’.

Fundamental rights guaranteed under the Indian Constitution may be divided for the sake of convenience in two categories, i.e. specified fundamental rights and other fundamental rights. The specified fundamental rights are those rights which are there in the Covenant as well as these rights are specifically enumerated in the Indian constitution. This division is helpful in order to make them comparable with the human rights guaranteed to the individuals under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Name of the Rights Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Indian Constitution

Forced Labour Art. 8(3) Art. 23

Equality before law Art.14(1) Art. 14

Prohibition of discrimination Art. 26 Art. 15(1)

Equality of opportunity Art. 25(c) Art. 16(1)

Freedom of speech and expression Art. 19(1) & (2) Art. 19(1)(a)

Freedom of peaceful assembly Art. 21 Art. 19(1)(b)

Right of freedom of association Art. 23(4) Art. 19(1)(c)

Right to life and liberty Art. 6(1) &9(1) Art. 21

Freedom of conscience and religion Art. 18(1) Art. 25

However, there are a number of rights which, though are not specified in Part III of the Constitution by name as fundamental rights have been regarded as fundamental by the Supreme Court by enlarging the meaning and scope of the fundamental rights.

Although in A.D.M., Jabalpur v Shukla (AIR 1976 SC 1207), the Supreme Court held by a majority of 4:1 that the Constitution of India did not recognise any natural or common law rights other than that expressly conferred in the Constitution, the trend of the Supreme Court has changed especially after 1978. The Courts on many occasions, by accepting the rule of judicial construction, that regards must be paid to international conventions and norms for constructing domestic law, held that the rights which are not specifically mentioned in the constitution may be regarded as fundamental rights if it is integral part of the fundamental right.

The following are the rights which are contained in the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights are available to the citizens of India in spite of their not being specifically mentioned in the Constitution.

1.1. Right to privacy

By the expression right to privacy we mean the right to be left alone to live one’ s own life with minimum degree of interference. The right to privacy is stipulated in the Covenant on Civil and political Rights under Art. 17(1) which says that no one shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his honour and reputation. But this right is not guaranteed in the constitution.

However, in Kharak Sing v State of U.P., [(1964) 1 SCR 33] it was held by the Supreme Court that the domiciliary visits is an infringement of the right to privacy and is violative of the citizen’ s fundamental right guaranteed under Art.21 of the Indian Constitution.

In Govind v State of Madhya Pradesh [1996 (0) MPLJ 649] the right to privacy was assumed to be a part of the personal liberty guaranteed under Art. 21 of the Constitution, by stating that although the right to privacy is not explicitly provided in the Constitution, it is ingrained in the fundamental right of life and personal liberty.

In People’s Union for Civil Liberties v Union of India [1997 AIR (SC) 568], commonly known as telephone tapping case, the Supreme Court held that right to life and personal liberty includes telephone conversation in the office or home and thus telephone tapping is violative of Art. 21.

1.2. Right to travel abroad

The right to travel abroad is a guaranteed right under Art.12 Para 2 of the Covenant; however it is not specifically recognised under Part III of the Constitution as a fundamental right. The Supreme Court in Satwant Sing v Asst. Passport Officer, New Delhi [AIR 1967 SC 1836] held that the right to go abroad is a part of the person’ s personal liberty within the meaning of Art. 21.

In Maneka Gandhi v Union of India [AIR 1978 SC 597] the Supreme Court upheld the decision of the Satwant Sing’s case.

1.3. Right to speedy trial

The Covenant on Civil and Political Rights laid down under Art. 9 Para (3) that anyone arrested or detained on a criminal charge shall be brought before judge….and shall be entitled to trial within a reasonable time or to release. But the Constitution has got no provision for a person to be tried without undue delay.

In Hussainara Khatun v Home Secretary, State of Bihar(no.1) [(1980) 1 SCC 98] it was held by the Supreme Court that though the right to speedy trial is not directly mentioned in the fundamental right but is implicit in the broad sweep of Art.21 which deals with right of life and personal liberty.

In the case Raj Deo Sharma v State of Bihar [(1998) 7 SCC 507] the Supreme Court after having recognised that the speedy trial is the right of the accused, issued certain directions for effective enforcement of this right. The Court directed that in cases where the trial is for an offence punishable with imprisonment for a period not exceeding two years and if the offence of the under trial is punishable with a period exceeding 7 years, the court shall close prosecution evidence on completion of 3 years from the date of recording of the plea or framing of the charge. The whole idea was to speed up the trial in criminal case to prevent the prosecution from becoming a persecution (harassment).

1.4. Right to provide legal assistant

The Covenant on Civil and Political Rights provides under Para 3(d) of Article 14 that everyone shall be entitled to be tried in his presence, and to defend himself in person or through his legal assistance of his own choosing, to be informed, if he does not have legal assistance assigned to him, of this right; and to have legal assistance assigned to him, in any case where the interest of justice so requires, and without payment by him in any such case if he has no sufficient means to pay for it.

In M.H. Hoskot v State of Maharashtra [(1978) 3 SCC 544] that the right to free legal service is an essential ingredients of reasonable, fair and just procedure for a person accused of an offence and is implicit in Art.21 of the Constitution.

In Khatri v State of Bihar [AIR 1981 SC 928] the Supreme Court directed the state of Bihar that it cannot avoid the constitutional obligations to provide free legal services to a poor by pleading feeding financial and administrative inability.

1.5. Right of prisoners to be treated with humanity

Article 10 of the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights under Para (1) lays all person deprived of their liberty shall be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person. But the Indian Constitution there is no such provision in Part III which can safeguard the brutal treatment given to the prisoners.

However, the Supreme Court in Charles Shobraj v Suerintendent, Central Jail, Tihar, New Delhi recognised that ‘right to life’ is more than mere animal existence. Even iin prison person is required to be treated with dignity and enjoy all those right mentioned in Art.19 and 21.

In Francis Coralie Mullin v The Administrator, Union Territory of Delhi [(1981) 2 SCR 516], it was again observed by the Supreme Court that even a convict is entitled to the protection of the precious right guaranteed by the Art 21 of the Constitution.

In Sunil Batra v Delhi Administration (no 1) [1979 SCR (1) 392], the practice of keeping under trials with convicts in jail was regarded by the Supreme Court as inhuman and violation of Art 21.

In Bandhua Mukti Morcha [1992 AIR SC 38] case, the Supreme Court held that the right to life guaranteed by Art. 21 included the right to live with human dignity free from exploitation.

In D.K. Basu v State of West Bengal [AIR 1997 SC 610], the Supreme Court held that the precious right guaranteed by the Constitution of India cannot be denied to convicts, under trials, detenues and other prisoners in custody except according to the procedure established by law.

1.6. Right to compensation

The Covenant on Civil and Political Right under Art 9 Para 5 laid down that ‘anyone who has been the victim of unlawful arrest or detention shall have an enforceable right to compensation.’ This right has not been specifically guaranteed by the Constitution but the court ruled that a suit for compensation against the state is maintainable and the state has no right to take any action which may deprive the citizen of the basic fundamental rights except in accordance with the law which is reasonable, just and fair.

In Rudal Shah v State of Bihar [AIR 1983 SC 1086] the Supreme Court held that Art 21 which says about right to life will be denuded of its significant content if the power of this court were limited to passing orders of release from illegal detention.

1.7. Right to information

The Covenant on Civil and Political Rights laid down under Art 19, Para 2 that everyone shall have the right to freedom f speech and expression. The Indian constitution under Art 19(1) (a) guarantees the right to free speech and expression as fundamental right, the right to information is not specifically mentioned in Part III of the Constitution.

In S.P.Gupta v Union of India [AIR 19S2 SC 149], Justice Bhagwati stated that the concept of open government is the direct emanation from the right to free speech and expression. Therefore disclosures of information in regard to the functioning of government must be the rule and secrecy an exception justified only where the strictest requirement of public interest is required.

Therefore it may be concluded that a number of rights which are not specifically provided in the Constitution in Part III as ‘fundamental rights’ have been regarded as fundamental and are available to the individual because of the bold interpretation given by the Supreme Court of those rights which are specifically provided in the Constitution. We can say the judiciary has been a zealous guardian of the human rights.

4. COVENANT ON ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS AND INDIAN CONSTITUTION

Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of human beings are contained in the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The Covenant has significant feature which makes it different from the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Under the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights the states are under an obligation to respect and to ensure to all the individual the rights stipulated therein, but under the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights the states are not bound to do so. Rights stipulated in the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights do not find place in Part III of the Constitution but they are provided in Part IV of the Constitution which stands for the Directive Principles of State Policy. This Part contains a list of directives and instructions to be followed by the present and future governments irrespective of their political complexion. The directive principles are fundamental in governance of the Country. Thus Part IV cast upon the states the duties which they are required to follow. The directive principles which broadly incorporate the economic and social rights are as much as a part of human rights. Many rights enshrined in the Covenant on

Economic, Social and Cultural Rights are incorporated in the directive principles.

Thus we can see that all rights like right to equal pay for equal work for both men and women, the right to protect the childhood of work and for maternity work, the right to work, right to adequate standard of living, etc are recognised in the Covenant as well as in our Indian Constitution. However, these rights being stated in Part IV of the Constitution are not enforceable in the court of law. But recently some of these rights are considered as fundamental by the Supreme Court by enlarging the scope of the ‘fundamental rights’ stipulated in Part III of the constitution. This has done by broadening the ambit of the ‘right to life’ under Art.21 of the Constitution. Some of these rights are as follows:

4.1. Equal pay for equal work

The Covenant of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights under Art 7(a) lays down that fair wages and equal remuneration fro work of equal value without distinction of any kind in particular women being guaranteed conditions of work not inferior to those enjoyed by men. Under the Indian constitution clause (d) of Art.39 of the Directive Principles of State Policy states about the equal pay for equal work for both men and women.

In Randhir Sing v Union of India [1982 AIR 879], the Supreme Court held that the principle of equal pay for equal work though not a fundamental right is certainly a Constitutional gaol and capable through enforcement through Constitutional remedies available under art 32 of the Constitution.

4.2. Right of workmen to medical benefits

‘Safe and healthy working conditions and the creation of conditions which would assure to all medical service and medical attention in the event of sickness’ are the rights which are stated in Art.7, Para (b) and Article 12, Para 2(d) under the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Right to workmen to medical benefits under the Indian Constitution finds place under Art.38 and Art.39 which is not enforceable. But the Supreme Court in the Regional Director, ESI, Corporation and another v Francis De Costa and another [1996(6) SCC 1] held that under Art. 21 read with Art. 38 and 39 the right to medical and disability benefit to workmen is his fundamental right.

4.3. Right to livelihood

Art. 6 of the Covenant of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights says right to work including the right of everyone to the opportunity to gain his living by work which he freely chooses or accepts, and will take appropriate steps to safeguard this right. The right to livelihood has been incorporated in Art 39(a) and Art 41 of the Indian Constitution.

The Supreme Court in Olga Tellis v Bombay Municipal Corporation [(1985) 3 SCC 545], popularly known as the pavement dwellers, held that right to livelihood is an integral facet of the right to life guaranteed under Art 21 of the Constitution.

4.4. Right to shelter

The Covenant on the Economic, social and Cultural Rights under Art 7 Para (a)(ii) lays down that the States parties recognise the right of everyone for decent living for themselves and their families and Art. 11 they recognise the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family including housing. It shows that right to shelter finds a place in the Covenant but it has not been enumerated specifically in the Indian Constitution. However, the Supreme Court in Chameli Sing v State of U.P. [AIR 1996 SC 1051] it was held that by the Supreme Court that the right to live includes the right to food, water, decent environment, education, medical care and shelter. As of right to shelter is concerned the court held that it includes adequate living space, safe and decent structure, clean and decent surroundings, sufficient light, pure air and water, electricity and other civil amenities like roads, etc.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

i. Prof. M.P.Jain, INDIAN CONTITUTIONAL LAW, Fifth edition reprint 2009, LexisNexis Butterworths Wadhwa, Butterworths Wadhwa, Nagpur

ii. Prof. Narendra Kumar, CONTITUTIONAL LAW OF INDIA, 5th edition, 2006, Allahabad Law Agency

iii. V. Para Brahma Sastri, RIGHT TO LIFE AND PERSONAL LIBERTY(COMMENTARY AND CASE MATERIALS), 1st edition, 2005, Asia Law House, Hyderabad

 

HOW TO EXERCISE YOUR RIGHT TO INFORMATION

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