Right to information

The Right to Information Act, 2005 is a very powerful piece of legislation available to the citizenry of this nation. The Preamble to the Act says that, the Act intends to secure access to information under the control of public authorities to citizens, to promote transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority, as our democratic set up requires an informed citizenry and transparency of information, which are vital to its functioning.

Subject to the provisions of this Act, all citizens shall have the right to information. Further, all public authorities are required to maintain its records duly catalogued and indexed which facilitates the right to information under the Act and also to publish the particulars of facilities, available to citizens for obtaining information, also the names, designations and other particulars of the Public Information Officers.

A person who desires to obtain any information, shall make a request in writing or through electronic means in English, Hindi or in the official language of the area in which the application is made, accompanying such fee as may be prescribed, to the designated Public Information Officer of the concerned Public authority. The applicant need not give any reason for the request of information, as well as need not give any other extra personal details, more than what is necessary for contacting him. If, the information asked for, is held by another public authority, then the receiving public authority shall transfer the said application to the concerned public authority within 5 days of the receipt of the application. 

The information sought under the Right to Information Act, shall be provided expeditiously and in any case within 30 days from the receipt of the request. If the information sought for, concerns the life or liberty of an individual, the same shall be provided within 48 hours of the receipt of the request. If a decision is not passed by the information officer within the time period of 30 days, or if the persons seeking the information is not satisfied by the decision of the officer, then the aggrieved person has the right to appeal against such a decision within 30 days of the receipt of the decision. The appeal against the decision of the information officer shall be disposed within a period of 45 days. The aggrieved person has also got a right of second appeal if he is not satisfied by the decision in the appeal. Such a second appeal has to be field within 90 days from the order of the First appellate authority.

The act also imposes penalties on information officers, who refuse to receive request for information or refuses to give information within the specified time. The penalty shall be Rs 250/- per day, till application is received or information is furnished, subject to a maximum of Rs 25,000/-. Further, disciplinary actions can be taken against the concerned officials, under the service rules applicable to them.

The Act is not applicable to intelligence and security organizations of the Central Government and information furnished by such organizations to the Central Government are also not coming within the scope of this Act.