The Right to Information Act, 2005 is an Act which provides for setting up the practical regime of right to information for citizens to secure access to information under the control of public authorities in order to promote transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority. The preamble of the Act also states that the democracy requires an informed citizenry and transparency of information which are vital to its functioning and also to contain corruption and to hold Governments and their instrumentalities accountable to the governed. Citizens have, however, the right to secure access to information of only those matters which are “under the control of public authorities”, the purpose is to hold “Government and its instrumentalities” accountable to the governed. Consequently, though right to get information is a fundamental right guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution, limits are being prescribed under the Act itself, which are reasonable restrictions within the meaning of Article 19(2) of the Constitution of India.
- A citizen has a right to seek such information from a public authority which is held by the public authority or which is held under its control. This right includes inspection of work, documents and records; taking notes, extracts or certified copies of documents or records; and taking certified samples of material held by the public authority or held under the control of the public authority. It is important to note that only such information can be supplied under the Act which already exists and is held by the public authority or held under the control of the public authority. The Public Information Officer is not supposed to create information: or to interpret information, or to solve the problems raised by the applicants, or to furnish replies to hypothetical questions.
Method of Seeking information
2. A citizen who desires to obtain any information under the Act, should make an
application to the Public Information Officer of the concerned public authority in writing in English or Hindi or in the official language of the area in which the application is made. The application should be precise and specific. He should make payment of application fee at the time of submitting the application as prescribed in the Fee Rules. The applicant can send the application by post or through electronic means or can deliver it personally in the office of the public authority. The application can also be sent through an Assistant Public Information Officer.
3. Every public authority should provide as much information suo motu to the public
through various means of communications so that the public have minimum need to use the Act to obtain information. Internet being one of the most effective means of communications, the information may be posted on the website.
4. Section 4(l)(b) of the Act, in particular, requires every public authority to publish
following sixteen categories of information:
- the particulars of its organisation, functions and duties;
- the powers and duties of its officers and employees;
- the procedure followed in the decision-making process,
- including channels of supervision and accountability;
- the norms set by it for the discharge of its functions;
- the rules, regulations, instructions, manuals and records, held by it or under its . .
control or used by its employees for discharging its functions;
- a statement of the categories of documents that are held by it or under its control;
- the particulars of any arrangement that exists for consultation with, or representation by, the members of the public in relation to the formulation of its policy or implementation thereof;
- a statement of the boards, councils, committees and other bodies consisting of two
or more persons constituted as its part or for the purpose of its advice, and as to
whether meetings of those boards, councils, committees and other bodies are open
to the public, or the minutes of such meetings are accessible for public;
- directory of its officers and employees;
- the monthly remuneration received by each of its officers and employees, including
the system of compensation as provided in its regulations;
- the budget allocated to each of its agency, indicating the particulars of all plans:
proposed expenditures and reports on disbursements made:
- the manner of execution of subsidy programmes, including the amounts allocated
and the details of beneficiaries of such programmes;
- particulars of recipients of concessions, permits or authorisations granted by it;
details in respect of the information, available to or held by it, reduced in an electronic form;
- the particulars of facilities available to citizens for obtaining information,
including the working hours of a library or reading room, if maintained for public use;
- the names, designations and other particulars of the Public lnformation Officers.
- Besides the categories of information enumerated above, the Government may
prescribe other categories of information to be published by any public authority. It need be stressed that publication of the information as referred to above is not optional. It is a statutory requirement which every public authority is bound to meet.
Another important point to note is that it is not sufficient to publish the above information once. The public authority is obliged to update such information every year. It is advisable that, as far as possible, the information should be updated as and when any development takes place. Particularly, in case of publication on the internet, the information should be kept updated all the time.
Categories: Right to Information Act 2005