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Right to Information
The Right to Information (RTI) Act guarantees everyone the freedom to access information and opinions about any topic through any media, across all barriers. When the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was ratified in 1948, it went into effect. In 2005, changes were made to the Right to Information Act bill.
Right to Information Background
Article 19 (1) of the Indian Constitution declares the right to information to be a basic right. The Supreme Court determined that the right to information shall be considered as a basic right under article 19 in the 1976 case of Raj Narain v. State of Uttar Pradesh. According to the Supreme Court, in an Indian democracy, the people are in charge and have a right to know how their government is run. As a result, in 2005, the government passed the Right to Information Act, which establishes a system for exercising this fundamental right.
One of the most significant laws that give common people the ability to challenge the government and how it operates is this one. This has been widely used by the public and the media to discover corruption, the status of government projects, information about spending, etc.
Right to Information Objective
The Right to Information Act’s main objectives are to empower citizens, encourage transparency and accountability in governmental operations, fight corruption, and ensure that our democracy actually serves the needs of the people. It should go without saying that a well-informed citizen is better able to maintain the necessary oversight of governance mechanisms and hold the government accountable to the governed. The Act is an important step in educating the public about government operations.
Right to Information Feature
Any Indian citizen may ask a public authority for information under its provisions. Within 30 days, the requested information must receive a response. The public information officer at the centre or in the State must receive any requests for information from the public authority.
Every government agency is urged by the RTI Act to make their offices transparent by digitising their records so that the public can access the data widely. The RTI Act of 2005 will not apply to Jammu and Kashmir. It does, however, have a distinct 2009 Act. This act loosened the limits imposed by the Official Secrets Act of 1923.
The Act created a three-tiered enforcement system for the right to information it guarantees. Public Information Officer, First Appellate Authority, and Central Information Commission (CIC) are the three levels. The person who requested the information may appeal if it is not provided within 30 days. In rare circumstances, the Appellate Authority must respond in 45 days rather than 30 days.
When information is not provided, the person has 90 days to file a second appeal. All central and state constitutional organisations (Legislature, Executive, and Judiciary), entities owned or supported by the government, and privatised public utility firms are considered public authorities under the RTI Act.
The Central Intelligence Agency and Security Agencies are among the public authorities that are exempt from the RTI. There will be a Chief Information Commissioner and up to 10 Central Information Commissioners who make up the Central Information Commission. After taking office, the Chief Information Commissioner will serve a term of five years. She/he is ineligible to be reappointed to that position. Public agencies that have received an exemption under this act are covered by Section 8.
Right to Information Need
The current situation calls for the right to information since it helps to keep government operations transparent and accountable. Due to the fact that our government officials and public institutions gathered information and worked on it, this Act is extremely important for everyone. It established the right of every Indian citizen to have access to or control over financial information held by any authority on behalf of the state. As a result, the authority is now accountable for using the information properly without engaging in any corrupt practices.
This Act gives the poor and impoverished the right to inquire about and receive information on governmental policies and initiatives, which empowers them as well. Their wellbeing follows from this in turn. High-level corruption has been revealed in areas like the planning of the Commonwealth Games, the distribution of 2G spectrum, and the procurement of coal blocks. By removing unnecessary concealment, it improves the ability of policymakers to make decisions.
The Right to Information (RTI) Act of 2005
The fifth pillar of democracy is regarded as being the right to information. According to UNGA resolution 1946, the freedom of information is a basic human right and the cornerstone of all other freedoms to which the UN is dedicated. According to Indian Constitutional Article 19 (1), the right to information is a basic right.
Objective of the RTI Act, 2005
Encourage people to challenge the government. The law encourages accountability and transparency in how the government operates. The act also aids in better serving the needs of the populace and reducing corruption in government. The act aims to create more knowledgeable individuals who will maintain the essential vigilance regarding how the political system functions.
Right to Information Act, 2005 Important Provisions
- Section 2(h): All agencies and organisations that fall under the jurisdiction of the union, a state, or a local body are considered public authorities. RTI also covers civil societies that receive a significant amount of funding from public sources, either directly or indirectly.
- Section 4 1(b): Information must be kept up to date and proactively shared by the government.
- Section 6: prescribes a straightforward process for information security.
- Section 7: specifies a deadline for PIOs to deliver information
- Section 8: Only the barest of details are excluded from exposure.
- Exemptions from providing information under the RTI Act are mentioned in Section 8 (1).
- If the greater public interest is served, Section 8 (2) permits disclosure of information exempt under the Official Secrets Act of 1923.
- Section 19: Two-tier appeals process.
- Section 20 outlines penalties for failing to give information on time, providing information that is inaccurate, incomplete, deceptive, or distorted.
- Lower courts may not hear lawsuits or applications, per Section 23. However, the Supreme Court of India’s and high courts’ writ jurisdiction under Articles 32 and 226 of the Constitution is unchanged.
RTI Act 2005 Challenges
Women’s participation in the act is insufficient for a forward-thinking society where women are empowered. According to the data, almost 45% of public information officers were hired without any training. The federal and state governments have a history of using bad record-keeping techniques. Section 4 of the RTI Act of 2005 is broken by this.
The number of cases still pending is a blatant sign that the administration is treating RTI carelessly. The necessary workforce is severely understaffed, and there is a severe lack of the necessary infrastructure to administer Information Commissions. It is alarming that the whistleblower protection laws are being watered down. Concern exists regarding the safety and defense of RTI activists while they are carrying out their activity.
Political parties and the judiciary are excluded, which raises questions and presents a barrier in the effort to make the system more open and responsible. The most recent revisions will erode the RTI act’s primary goal and foster political favoritism in the nomination of information commissioners.
Right to Information Act Amendment
Earlier, the RTI Act of 2005 was used to appoint the Chief Information Commissioner at the federal and state levels for a 5-year term. But now, in accordance with the RTI Amendment Act 2019, the union government will announce the duration of the Chief Information Commissioner in the centre and state.
Previously, in accordance with the RTI Act of 2005, the salaries of the Chief Information Commissioner and the Information Commissioners were equal to those of the Chief Election Commissioner and the Election Commissioners. However, following the amendment, the salaries, allowances, and other terms and conditions of employment for the central and state Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners are now the same. It will be determined by the national government.
The RTI Amendment Act of 2019 eliminates the clause that prohibits the Chief Information Commissioner and information commissioners at the federal and state levels from collecting a pension or any other retirement benefits for prior public service at the time of their appointments. Then a portion equivalent to the pension will be deducted from their salary.
Right To Information UPSC
2005’s RTI Act The IAS syllabus must include the UPSC Syllabus; it cannot be avoided. Reading the Right to Information Act, 2005 study notes will help you understand how important the act is for the Indian Polity section of the Prelims and Mains exams. Students can read all the details related to UPSC by visiting the official website of StudyIQ UPSC Online Coaching.