August 17, 2009

 

ALL MEMBERS

 

Sub. : The Right to Information Act, 2005

 

The Right to Information Act, 2005 (Act No. 22/2005) is a law enacted by the Parliament  of  India  giving  citizens  of  India  access  to  records  of  the Central Government  and  State  Governments.   The  Act  applies  to  all   States   and   Union Territories of India, except the State of Jammu and Kashmir â€?which is covered under a State-level law.  Under the provisions of the Act, any citizen (including the citizens within Jammu & Kashmir) may request information from a “public authorityâ€?(a body of Government or “instrumentality of Stateâ€? which is required to reply expeditiously or within thirty days.  The Act also requires every public authority to computerize their records for wide dissemination and to proactively publish certain categories of information so that the citizens need minimum recourse to request for information formally.

 

This law was passed by Parliament on June 15, 2005, and came fully into force on October 13, 2005.  Information disclosure in India was hitherto restricted by the Official Secrets Act, 1923, and various other special laws, which the  new  RTI Act now relaxes.

 

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 five 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 citizen making the request is not obliged to disclose any information except his name and contact particulars.

 

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 thirty days of receipt.

 

If the request has  been  made  to  an  APIO,  the  reply  is  to  be  given  within  thirty-five 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 thirty 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 forty-five 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 forty-eight 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 feesâ€?  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.  Information if 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 time 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.

 

Members who require any assistance with regard to the filing of an Application under the RTI Act and Rules or desire to seek any further clarification or information may contact the Association’s office.

 

 

 

 

Siddharth Dias

Assistant Secretary

 

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