RIGHT TO INFORMATION
The Right to Information Act 2005 (RTI) is an Act of the Parliament of India “to provide for setting out the practical regime of right to information for citizens.” The Act applies to all States and Union Territories of India except the State of Jammu and Kashmir. Jammu and Kashmir has its own act called Jammu & Kashmir Right to Information Act, 2009. Under the provisions ofthe Act, any citizen 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 computerize their records for wide dissemination and to pro-actively publish certain categories of information so that the citizens need minimum recourse to request for information formally. This law was passed by Parliament on 15 June 2005 and came fully into force on 12 October 2005. Information disclosure in India was hitherto restricted by the Official Secrets Act 1923 and various other special laws, which the new RTI Act now relaxes
The RTI Laws were first successfully enacted by the state governments of — Karnataka (2000), Goa (1997), Rajasthan (2000), Tamil Nadu (1997), Delhi (2001), Maharashtra (2002), Assam (2002), Madhya Pradesh (2003), and Jammu and Kashmir (2004). The Maharashtra and Delhi State level enactments are considered to have been the most widely used. 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 Jammu & Kashmir, has its own Right to Information Act of 2009, the successor to the repealed J&K Right to Information Act, 2004 and its 2008 amendments
Private bodies are not within the Act’s ambit directly. In a landmark decision of 30-Nov-2006 (‘Sarbajit Roy versus DERC’) the Central Information Commission also reaffirmed that privatized public utility companies continue to be within the RTI Act- their privatization not withstanding
The Act empowers applicant citizens to:
• Obtain copies of permissible governmental documents.
• Inspect permissible governmental documents.
• Inspect permissible Governmental works and obtain samples.
In the first year of National RTI, 42,876 (not yet official) applications for information were filed to Central (i.e. Federal) public authorities. Of these 878 were disputed at the final appellate stage – the Central Information Commission at New Delhi. A few of these decisions have thereafter been mired in further legal controversy in the various High Courts of India. The first stay order against a final appellate decision of the Central Information Commission was granted on 3.May.2006 by the High Court of Delhi in WP(C)6833-35/2006 cited as “NDPL & Ors. versus Central Information Commission & Ors”. The Government of I
Courts of India. The first stay order against a final appellate decision of the Central Information Commission was granted on 3.May.2006 by the High Court of Delhi in WP(C)6833-35/2006 cited as “NDPL & Ors. versus Central Information Commission & Ors”. The Government of India’s purported intention in 2006 to amend the RTI Act was postponed after public disquiet, but has been revived again in 2009 by the DoPT