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Essay on Rti Act

Essay on Rti Act

The much talked about Right to Information Act came into force on October 12. The Union government says the Act is revolutionary, as it opens all official departments across the country to public scrutiny. The government also claims the new law will help it share power with the humblest, and empower the weakest The Right to Information (RTI) Act is a law enacted by the Parliament of India to provide for setting out the practical regime of right to information for citizens. It was passed by Parliament on 15 June 2005 and came fully into force on 13 October 2005.

The RTI Act mandates timely response to citizen requests for government information. It applies to all States and Union Territories of India, except the State of Jammu and Kashmir, which is covered under a State-level law. The Act relaxes the Official Secrets Act of 1889 which was amended in 1923 and various other special laws that restricted information disclosure in India. In other words, the Act explicitly overrides the Official Secrets Act and other laws in force as on 15 June 2005 to the extent of any inconsistency.

Under the provisions of the Act, any citizen (excluding the citizens within J&K) may request information from a ‘public authority’ (a body of Government or ‘instrumentality of State’) which is required to reply expeditiously or within thirty days. The Act also requires every public authority to computerise 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. It is a new law that the Indian government has enacted.

It gives every citizen the fundamental right to seek information from any government department. The Act aims to promote openness, transparency and accountability in governance. Information, as per the Act, includes records, documents, file nothings, memos, e-mails, opinions, advices, press releases, circulars, orders, logbooks, contracts, reports, papers, samples, models, data and material held in any electronic or printed form. Information is indispensable for the functioning of a true democracy. The right to know is closely linked with other basic rights like freedom of speech and expression and right to education.

In a country like India, availability of information to the people needs to be assured in the fastest and simplest form possible. The advocates of the Act argue that free flow of information from the government will not only create an enlightened and informed public opinion, but also render those in authority accountable. According to former attorney general Soli Sorabjee, “Lack of transparency was one of the main causes for all pervading corruption and Right to Information would lead to openness, accountability and integrity. “Red tapism and an insensitive bureaucracy had often been the hurdles to getting information from the government.

Often, the Official Secrets Act would be waved to deter information seekers. In the last decade, activists, rights groups and politicians have been campaigning for such a law. In Various activist groups formed the National Campaign for the People’s Right to Information, to demand the legislation. The Campaign, shepherded by activist Aruna Roy, was instrumental in the introduction of the Freedom of Information Bill in the Lok Sabha in July 25, 2000. The bill was enacted as the Freedom of Information Act in 2002. But the Act retained a number of restrictive provisions to deny information to the public.

The parameters of the new law are amazing by any stretch of imagination. If used with zeal, this Act will make the real difference to way we live and behave in public and the way we use, misuse and abuse public money. This law helps us as First, besides serving the high ideals of democracy and humane society, this Act will make Indians more powerful because information is power in today’s world. Second, the Act will also strike at the roots of corruption because corruption breeds in secrecy and multiplies faster at places where accountability is less or nil.

When corrupt bureaucrats, politicians and contractors know the law can catch them, they will think hard before indulging in blatant corruption. At least, now alert citizens can slow down corrupt officers and politicians. Third, Indian politics will hopefully mature as more information passes through the hands of political rivals, police, judiciary, media and the people. The Act will reveal who is exploiting whom and how one can get justice for the poor and the needy. The judiciary will now have better data to decide against the corrupt. That sounds so far flung, doesn’t it?

Let us start from the district level. If the road leading to your town is washed out in the first rains of the season, you might like to ask who was given the contract to build that road, at what price and what the terms and conditions were. Was the contractor related to a Member of Parliament or a member of legislative assembly in that area? During the building of that road, did any government officer object to any deficiency or malpractice? Was there any communication in this regard? The concerned departments will have to come up with answers in the stipulated period.

Some panchayats are run by local goons or the community caste heads. They bully people when someone raises questions of accounts and money spent. The Sarpanch or development officers are rarely forthcoming. Now, all resources and their distribution will have to be transparent on paper. The RTI Act specifies that citizens have a right to: request any information (as defined); take copies of documents; inspect documents, works and records; take certified samples of materials of work; and obtain information in the form of printouts, diskettes, floppies, tapes, video cassettes or in any other electronic mode.

Prior to the Act being passed by the Parliament, the RTI Laws were first successfully enacted by the state governments of Tamil Nadu (1997), Goa (1997), Rajasthan (2000), Karnataka (2000), Delhi (2001), Maharashtra (2002), Madhya Pradesh (2003), Assam (2002) and Jammu and Kashmir (2004). Some of these State level enactments have been widely used. While the Delhi RTI Act is still in force, Jammu & Kashmir has its own Right to Information Act of 2009, the successor to the repealed J Right to Information Act, 2004 and its 2008 amendment.

At the national level, given the experience of state governments in passing practicable legislation, the Central Government appointed a working group under H. D. Shourie to draft legislation. The Shourie draft, in an extremely diluted form, became the basis for the Freedom of Information Bill, 2000 which eventually became law under the Freedom of Information (Fol) Act, 2002. The Fol Act, however, never came into effective force as it was severely criticised for permitting too many exemptions, not only under the standard grounds of national security and sovereignty, but also for requests hat would involve ‘disproportionate diversion of the resources of a public authority’. Further, there was no upper limit on the charges that could be levied and there were no penalties for not complying with a request for information. The failure of Fol Act led to sustained pressure for a better National RTI enactment. The first draft of the Right to Information Bill was presented to Parliament on 22 December 2004. Subsequently, more than a hundred amendments to the draft Bill were made before the bill was finally passed.

The Law is applicable to all constitutional authorities, including the executive, legislature and judiciary; any institution or body established or constituted by an act of Parliament or a state legislature. Bodies or authorities established or constituted by order or notification of appropriate government including bodies “owned, controlled or substantially financed” by government, or non-Government organizations “substantially financed, directly or indirectly by funds” provided by the government are also covered by the Law.

While private bodies are not within the Act’s ambit directly, in a landmark decision of 30 November 2006 (Sarbajit Roy versus DERC) the Central Information Commission reaffirmed that privatised public utility companies continue to be within the RTI Act their privatisation notwithstanding. Under the Act, all authorities covered must appoint their Public Information Officer (PIO). When any person submits a request to the PIO for information in writing, it is the PIO’s obligation to provide information.

Further, 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 authority 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 RTI Act specifies that a citizen making the request is not obliged to disclose any information except his/her name and contact particulars. The Act also 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. In the case of APIO, the reply is to be given within 35 days of receipt. If the request is transferred by to PIO to another public authority the time allowed to reply is computed from the day on which it is received by the PIO of the transferee authority. In case of information concerning corruption and Human Rights violations by scheduled Security agencies, the time limit is 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.

The information under RTI has to be paid for except for Below Poverty Level Card (BPL Card) holders. Hence, 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 the time limit, 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.

Considering that providing each and every information asked for under the Act may severely jeopardise national interest, some exemptions to disclosure are provided for in the Act. 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.

Information available to a person in his fiduciary relationship; information received in confidence from foreign Government; information which would impede the process of investigation or apprehension or prosecution of offenders; and cabinet papers including records of deliberations of the Council of Ministers, Secretaries and other officers are some of the exemptions. Notwithstanding any of these exemptions, a public authority may allow access to information, if public interest in disclosure outweighs the harm to the protected interests.

The officer who is the head of all the information under the Act is Chief Information Commissioner (CIC). At the end of year CIC is required to present a report which contains: the number of requests made to each public authority; the number of decisions when applicants were not given permission to access to the documents which they request, the provisions of the Act under which these decisions were made and the number of times such provisions were filed; details of disciplinary action taken against any officer in respect of the administration of the Act; and the amount of charges collected by each public authority under the Act. ZXzxZXZXZX The immediate beneficiaries of the Act will be Journalists. They will be able to report many more stories. The media can now think about questions they have never asked to the government because now, the government is bound to answer. And if the watchdogs of democracy get more teeth, it will put corrupt officers in a tighter spot than before. There is a mechanism in place to implement the Act. The government has formed a Central Information Commission. Wajahat Habibullah, who retired as a secretary to the Government of India, has taken charge as India’s first Chief Information Commissioner.

Recently, he wrote: The Right to Information Act of 2005 will guarantee the other essential elements of good governance: transparency and accountability. ‘ The Act does not mean you can access any government paper. An overly broad exemption has been included for ‘Cabinet papers, including records of deliberations of the council of ministers, secretaries and other officers. ‘ A number of central intelligence and security agencies are specifically and entirely exempted from the Act, except where the information request pertains to allegations of corruption or human rights violations.

The government has set up a procedure to get information. Citizens have to pay Rs 10 as application fee, Rs 2 per page of A4/A3 size paper on which copies of information are received, and Rs 50 per floppy diskette. Inspection of records for the first hour is free, but citizens will have to pay Rs 5 for every 15 minutes of subsequent time. The right to information has developed through almost the entire period of the country’s independent history. The Supreme Court has also evolved the Right to Information through interpretation of Articles 14, 19 and 21 of our Constitution.

Only recently, however, diverse strands and stirrings have started crystallizing into positive action at popular and government levels and the Central Government tabled the Right to Information Bill 2004 on December 23, 2004 almost a decade after the pioneering Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan agitation in Rajasthan. E. M. Forster, thinker-novelist offered only “Two” and not “Three Cheers” for Democracy as it is an imperfect system. In the present context, it has to be observed that the ruling elites and elected governments are unwilling to be transparent and accountable to the people for their actions.

An effective RTI should help develop a culture of democracy that is mandatory for good governance. Endemic corruption in our democratic regime can be fought through public monitoring of government policy and action. According to analysts, the government has muzzled the right to information by tabling an ineffective RTI Bill 2004. But the tide of public awareness cannot be turned away. Powerful vested interests and ruling elites will eventually yield to the gathering force of participatory democracy and collective power of the people. Right to Information shall have to be recognized as an inviolable Fundamental Right sooner than later.

William II was directed by his dying grandfather to maintain good relations with Russia, hence after his accession, he visited Russia Bismarck and his brother also accompanied him in this journey. The Russian Czar was much pleased with him and the visit proved fruitful. But after the downfall of Bismarck the entire burden of the fore’ policy fell on the shoulders of the German Emperor. He starts establishing good relations with Austria and Turkey and bade good- to Russian friendship. The Reinsurance Treaty of 1887 was to be reviving in 1890 but William II refused to revise it.

Gooch, an eminent history has remarked, “Czar was surprised to know it but he did not f offended. ” A politician of Russia also said that he was gratified to know that the revision of treaty was refused by William II. Thus, Russia be’ isolated began to lean towards France and at last they concluded a D Alliance in 1893-94. It ended the isolation of France. William II never expected an alliance between France and Russia, the two rival countries. William II was worried by this alliance and he wrote to Czar of Russia: “I am not afraid of this treaty but this alliance with a democratic France would create stir in autocratic world. In fact this alliance strengthened the position of France. Now the supremacy of Germany was ended in Europe and Europe was divided into two opposite military groups. But it established a balance of power which continued up to 1904 but thereafter it began to be disturbed. Having failed to break the Anglo-French friendship, William II made attempts to break the Franco-Russian friendship. He started a correspondence with Czar Nicholas of Russia and continued it from 1904 to 1906. This correspondence in history came to be known as Willy-Nicky correspondence. He wanted to gain the favour of Russia against Anglo-

Japanese alliance. At last both the Emperors, William II of Germany and Czar Nicholas of Russia, met at Biorko in Finland and a secret pact was made by which it was decided: (i) If any of them was invaded by any European power, the other would help the invaded country with all her military force. (ii) Neither country would conclude a separate treaty with any one. (iii) Russia would try to persuade France in joining this treaty. When Czar Nicholas returned to Russia and disclosed the terms of this secret treaty to his Foreign Minister, he condemned this treaty.

France also refused to join the Biorko Pact. Hence Czar Nicholas of Russia wrote a letter to William II about the cancellation of this pact. Consequently, the pact was broken. Thus, William II failed to gain the favour of Russia in spite of his best efforts. William II was directed by his dying grandfather to maintain good relations with Russia, hence after his accession, he visited Russia Bismarck and his brother also accompanied him in this journey. The Russian Czar was much pleased with him and the visit proved fruitful.

But after the downfall of Bismarck the entire burden of the fore’ policy fell on the shoulders of the German Emperor. He starts establishing good relations with Austria and Turkey and bade good- to Russian friendship. The Reinsurance Treaty of 1887 was to be reviving in 1890 but William II refused to revise it. Gooch, an eminent history has remarked, “Czar was surprised to know it but he did not f offended. ” A politician of Russia also said that he was gratified to know that the revision of treaty was refused by William II. Thus, Russia be’ isolated egan to lean towards France and at last they concluded a D Alliance in 1893-94. It ended the isolation of France. William II never expected an alliance between France and Russia, the two rival countries. William II was worried by this alliance and he wrote to Czar of Russia: “I am not afraid of this treaty but this alliance with a democratic France would create stir in autocratic world. ” In fact this alliance strengthened the position of France. Now the supremacy of Germany was ended in Europe and Europe was divided into two opposite military groups.

But it established a balance of power which continued up to 1904 but thereafter it began to be disturbed. Having failed to break the Anglo-French friendship, William II made attempts to break the Franco-Russian friendship. He started a correspondence with Czar Nicholas of Russia and continued it from 1904 to 1906. This correspondence in history came to be known as Willy-Nicky correspondence. He wanted to gain the favour of Russia against Anglo- Japanese alliance. At last both the Emperors, William II of Germany and Czar Nicholas of Russia, met at Biorko in Finland and a secret pact was made by which it was decided: i) If any of them was invaded by any European power, the other would help the invaded country with all her military force. (ii) Neither country would conclude a separate treaty with any one. (iii) Russia would try to persuade France in joining this treaty. When Czar Nicholas returned to Russia and disclosed the terms of this secret treaty to his Foreign Minister, he condemned this treaty. France also refused to join the Biorko Pact. Hence Czar Nicholas of Russia wrote a letter to William II about the cancellation of this pact. Consequently, the pact was broken.

Thus, William II failed to gain the favour of Russia in spite of his best efforts. William II was directed by his dying grandfather to maintain good relations with Russia, hence after his accession, he visited Russia Bismarck and his brother also accompanied him in this journey. The Russian Czar was much pleased with him and the visit proved fruitful. But after the downfall of Bismarck the entire burden of the fore’ policy fell on the shoulders of the German Emperor. He starts establishing good relations with Austria and Turkey and bade good- to Russian friendship.

The Reinsurance Treaty of 1887 was to be reviving in 1890 but William II refused to revise it. Gooch, an eminent history has remarked, “Czar was surprised to know it but he did not f offended. ” A politician of Russia also said that he was gratified to know that the revision of treaty was refused by William II. Thus, Russia be’ isolated began to lean towards France and at last they concluded a D Alliance in 1893-94. It ended the isolation of France. William II never expected an alliance between France and Russia, the two rival countries.

William II was worried by this alliance and he wrote to Czar of Russia: “I am not afraid of this treaty but this alliance with a democratic France would create stir in autocratic world. ” In fact this alliance strengthened the position of France. Now the supremacy of Germany was ended in Europe and Europe was divided into two opposite military groups. But it established a balance of power which continued up to 1904 but thereafter it began to be disturbed. Having failed to break the Anglo-French friendship, William II made attempts o break the Franco-Russian friendship. He started a correspondence with Czar Nicholas of Russia and continued it from 1904 to 1906. This correspondence in history came to be known as Willy-Nicky correspondence. He wanted to gain the favour of Russia against Anglo- Japanese alliance. At last both the Emperors, William II of Germany and Czar Nicholas of Russia, met at Biorko in Finland and a secret pact was made by which it was decided: (i) If any of them was invaded by any European power, the other would help the invaded country with all her military force. ii) Neither country would conclude a separate treaty with any one. (iii) Russia would try to persuade France in joining this treaty. When Czar Nicholas returned to Russia and disclosed the terms of this secret treaty to his Foreign Minister, he condemned this treaty. France also refused to join the Biorko Pact. Hence Czar Nicholas of Russia wrote a letter to William II about the cancellation of this pact. Consequently, the pact was broken. Thus, William II failed to gain the favour of Russia in spite of his best efforts.

William II was directed by his dying grandfather to maintain good relations with Russia, hence after his accession, he visited Russia Bismarck and his brother also accompanied him in this journey. The Russian Czar was much pleased with him and the visit proved fruitful. But after the downfall of Bismarck the entire burden of the fore’ policy fell on the shoulders of the German Emperor. He starts establishing good relations with Austria and Turkey and bade good- to Russian friendship. The Reinsurance Treaty of 1887 was to be reviving in 1890 but William II refused to revise it.

Gooch, an eminent history has remarked, “Czar was surprised to know it but he did not f offended. ” A politician of Russia also said that he was gratified to know that the revision of treaty was refused by William II. Thus, Russia be’ isolated began to lean towards France and at last they concluded a D Alliance in 1893-94. It ended the isolation of France. William II never expected an alliance between France and Russia, the two rival countries. William II was worried by this alliance and he wrote to Czar of Russia: “I am not afraid of this treaty but this alliance with a democratic France would create stir in autocratic world. In fact this alliance strengthened the position of France. Now the supremacy of Germany was ended in Europe and Europe was divided into two opposite military groups. But it established a balance of power which continued up to 1904 but thereafter it began to be disturbed. Having failed to break the Anglo-French friendship, William II made attempts to break the Franco-Russian friendship. He started a correspondence with Czar Nicholas of Russia and continued it from 1904 to 1906. This correspondence in history came to be known as Willy-Nicky correspondence. He wanted to gain the favour of Russia against Anglo- Japanese alliance.

At last both the Emperors, William II of Germany and Czar Nicholas of Russia, met at Biorko in Finland and a secret pact was made by which it was decided: (i) If any of them was invaded by any European power, the other would help the invaded country with all her military force. (ii) Neither country would conclude a separate treaty with any one. (iii) Russia would try to persuade France in joining this treaty. When Czar Nicholas returned to Russia and disclosed the terms of this secret treaty to his Foreign Minister, he condemned this treaty. France also refused to join the Biorko Pact.

Hence Czar Nicholas of Russia wrote a letter to William II about the cancellation of this pact. Consequently, the pact was broken. Thus, William II failed to gain the favour of Russia in spite of his best efforts. William II was directed by his dying grandfather to maintain good relations with Russia, hence after his accession, he visited Russia Bismarck and his brother also accompanied him in this journey. The Russian Czar was much pleased with him and the visit proved fruitful. But after the downfall of Bismarck the entire burden of the fore’ policy fell on the shoulders of the German Emperor.

He starts establishing good relations with Austria and Turkey and bade good- to Russian friendship. The Reinsurance Treaty of 1887 was to be reviving in 1890 but William II refused to revise it. Gooch, an eminent history has remarked, “Czar was surprised to know it but he did not f offended. ” A politician of Russia also said that he was gratified to know that the revision of treaty was refused by William II. Thus, Russia be’ isolated began to lean towards France and at last they concluded a D Alliance in 1893-94. It ended the isolation of France.

William II never expected an alliance between France and Russia, the two rival countries. William II was worried by this alliance and he wrote to Czar of Russia: “I am not afraid of this treaty but this alliance with a democratic France would create stir in autocratic world. ” In fact this alliance strengthened the position of France. Now the supremacy of Germany was ended in Europe and Europe was divided into two opposite military groups. But it established a balance of power which continued up to 1904 but thereafter it began to be disturbed.

Having failed to break the Anglo-French friendship, William II made attempts to break the Franco-Russian friendship. He started a correspondence with Czar Nicholas of Russia and continued it from 1904 to 1906. This correspondence in history came to be known as Willy-Nicky correspondence. He wanted to gain the favour of Russia against Anglo- Japanese alliance. At last both the Emperors, William II of Germany and Czar Nicholas of Russia, met at Biorko in Finland and a secret pact was made by which it was decided: (i) If any of them was invaded by any European power, the other would help the invaded country with all her military force. ii) Neither country would conclude a separate treaty with any one. (iii) Russia would try to persuade France in joining this treaty. When Czar Nicholas returned to Russia and disclosed the terms of this secret treaty to his Foreign Minister, he condemned this treaty. France also refused to join the Biorko Pact. Hence Czar Nicholas of Russia wrote a letter to William II about the cancellation of this pact. Consequently, the pact was broken. Thus, William II failed to gain the favour of Russia in spite of his best efforts.