What information can be requested under the Right to Information Act? Right to information is a sensitive matter, but is important to maintain transparency in the system to maintain the democratic value of the country. What is Right to Information? The Indian Constitution ensures the establishment of a sovereign, secular, Republic and democratic structure of the country which...
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What information can be requested under the Right to Information Act?
Right to information is a sensitive matter, but is important to maintain transparency in the system to maintain the democratic value of the country.
What is Right to Information?
The Indian Constitution ensures the establishment of a sovereign, secular, Republic and democratic structure of the country which requires enabling the citizens to have access to the required information regarding the regulatory procedure affecting their life.
Right to Information Act 2005 mandates that the citizens owe response from the government which they have asked for in respect of a government document and seek certified photocopies.
However, the right to information is not an absolute right, and not all the information are for public access. For example, after the Pulwama attack, many raised a voice to have access to the investigation report to that, but legally they cannot claim so, because that involves sensitive information regarding the security of the country and international harmony.
This article will give you an idea of the extent of your right to information as a citizen.
What is the information sought under the provision of the RTI Act?
As it has been already discussed that not all the information can be disclosed to the public, here are some information which can be obtained by the public, they are as follows:
• The information can be categorized into two - Information that is to be disclosed upon request, and information that are required to be disclosed to the public without any request made.
• The term information is defined under Sec. 2(f) of the Rights to Information Act, which says "any material in any form, including records, documents, memos, e-mails, opinions, advice, press releases, circulars, orders, logbooks, contracts, reports, papers, samples, models, data material held in any electronic form and also include information relating to any private body which can be accessed by a public authority under any other law for the time being in force".
• For the information regarding a personal matter more than 20 years old, Sec. 8(3) of the Act specifies that it will not amount to a violation of privacy.
• Municipal records come under the purview of the RTI Act, therefore a person can seek information by filing an application under this Act.
How to seek information under the RTI Act?
You can follow this procedure to obtain the required information under the provision of the RTI Act:
Step 1: File an application clearly mentioning the applicant's name, address, and other particulars in the prescribed format, paying the required fee unless the applicant is below the poverty line.
Step 2: For the matters related to the life and liberty of a person the information must be provided with 48 hours of filing the application, otherwise within 30 days in normal cases. If the application involves any information in the interest of a third party, then notice shall be sent to such a third party. The third party within five days of such application requested should respond whether he permits to provide such information about him. On receipt of such consent, the information shall be provided to the applicant within 40 days from the date of receipt.
Step 3: In case, the response is not appropriate or the applicant was refused on an unreasonable ground, the applicant can proceed for an appeal within 30 days of the expiration of the time limit of providing that information. If the applicant is not happy with the decision of the first appeal, can file for a second appeal within 90 days of such decision passed.
What are the provisions available to the Indian citizens under The RTI Act?
The Legislature recognizes the importance of the informed citizen is necessary for the efficient functioning of a democratic country. Transparency is necessary to monitor and curb corruption and the following provisions of the RTI Act will help you to understand the procedure:
• Sec. 4 of the Act imposes a responsibility on the public authorities to maintain its records duly systemized and indexed in a manner and form which facilitates the right to information under the Act.
• Sec. 6 of the Act grants the rights to a person to obtain any information following the provisions under this Act, in order to make a request in writing to the Central and State Public Information Officers specifying the particulars of the information sought by him. The applicant is not bound to give a specific reason for making such an investigation.
• Sec. 7 of the Act requires the Public Information Officer to either provide the information or reject the request for any of the reasons specified in Sec. 8 and Sec. 9 of the Act. This has to be responded to within 30 days of receipt of the request.
If the Officer fails to give a response to the request within 30 days, he will be considered to have refused the request.
• Sec. 19 of the Act says that if a person does not receive a response within 30 days following the provision under Sec. 7 of the Act, or is aggrieved by a decision of the Public Information Officer, he may file an appeal to an officer who is senior in rank to the concerned Public Information Officer in that Public Authority.
If the applicant is not satisfied with the decision or response from the first appeal and has valid grounds, can file a second appeal before the Central Information Commission or the State Information Commission as the case prescribes.
The powers of the Information Commission are enacted in Sec. 19(9) which includes the power to require the Public Authority to compensate the complainant for any loss or other detriment suffered and/or to impose any of the penalties provided under the RTI Act.
• Sec. 20 of the Act empowers the Information Commission to impose a penalty on the Public Information Officer if the Commission after an inquiry is clear that the concerned Officer refused to receive an application for information or has not furnished the information, without any reasonable cause, within the specified time under Sec. 7(1) of the Act, Moreover, if he had intentionally denied the request for information or deliberately has given incorrect, incomplete or misleading information or destroyed information which was the subject of the request or obstructed in any manner in furnishing the information, will face severe consequences.