The need for the RTI Act
- It enhances our Right to Speech and Expressions under Article 19(1) as exact information provides us a better way of expressing.
- If some scheme of government is not fruitful, it helps an individual to make constructive criticism of the government by providing information about a particular scheme and its execution.
- It aims to provide an efficient method to provide relevant information so that an individual can effectively use its right of speech and expression.
- The informed decision makes an individual in position so that they can oppose the government. Hence, it enhances democracy.
- Opposing the government on the basis of information provided by the government enhances the Right of living life with choice and dignity(Article 21).
- The RTI Act also aims to prohibit corruption, increase transparency and accountability in the system.
To understand this act properly let's look at what includes Public Authority
- It includes the bodies of self-government which are established under the constitution or under any law or under government notification.
- It includes any entities which are controlled or substantially financed by the government of India and also NGOs financed by the government directly or indirectly.
- It includes the ministries, public sector undertakings, and regulators.
What type of information we can access?
- Under the RTI Act of 2005, the public authorities are required to make disclosures on the various aspect of their structure and functioning.
- Public authorities are required to disclose the powers and duties of its officers and employees and its financial information.
Grounds of restriction of RTI Act (Under section 8 of RTI Act)
- Anyone can not access any information that violates the Right to the privacy of an individual.
- Sovergrenity, Security, Unity, and Integrity of India should not be affected by RTI. In these ground, the RTI Act is restricted. Ex: An individual cannot tale information of the Military under the RTI Act.
- An individual cannot access the information on the economic relations of India with foreign countries. The government is required to put only that information which they want to put in public domain.
- Any information which can lead to contempt of Court is one of the grounds of restriction of the RTI Act. (There are few decisions which the court don't want to put in the public domain).
- The commercial secret of any organization or individual can not be accessed under RTI.
- The RTI cannot be applied to the Official Secrets Act(OSA) of 1923.
Working of RTI Act
- All the public authorities have designated officers known as Public Information Officer(PIO) and Assistant Public Information Officer(APIO).
- The PIO is responsible for providing information under RTI.
- The PIO has to respond to the individual under 30 days, if the required information is violating section 8 of the RTI Act, the PIO will state the restriction and will reply back to the individual.
- If an individual is not satisfied with the answer of the PIO he/she can appeal to the First Appellate Authority( this authority is also of that public authority).
- If the individual is not satisfied with First Appellate Authority he/she can approach to Cheif Information Commissioner(CIC) and they will make the final decision. However judicial review is also available after the decision of CIC.
The RTI Amendment Act of 2019
- In this amendment, we amend sections 13, 16 and 27 of the RTI Act 2005.
- Initially, the CIC has to retire at the age of 65 years or have to retire after 5 years term but now such term will be prescribed by the central government. It reduces the security of tenure if CIC.
- Initially the salary and allowance of Cheif Information Commissioner(CIC) were equal to Cheif Election Commissioner (CEC) and those of Information Commissioners(IC) were same as that of election commissioner(EC) but now salary, allowances and other terms of service of the CIC and Information Commissioners shall be prescribed by the central government
- Now, the status of the CIC is the same as election commissioners and the status of IC is the same as the Cheif Secretary in the states.
- Note: There is not a defined law and the terms like "as prescribed by the government" enhances the arbitrary actions of the central government.
Hope it helps.
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