The Right to Information Act, simply known as RTI, is a revolutionary Act that goals to promote transparency in government institutions in India. The Act came launched in 2005, after sustained efforts of anti-corruption activists. Right to Information (RTI) is an Act of the Parliament of India to help for setting out the practical regime of the right to information for citizens and replaces the erstwhile Freedom of information Act, 2002. Under the provisions of the Act, any citizen of India may ask 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 needed every public authority to computerize their records for wide dissemination and to proactively certain categories of information so that the citizens need minimum recourse to request for information formally.
The objective of the Right to Information Act :
The basic goal of the Right to Information Act is to empower the citizens, promote transparency and accountability in the working of the Government, contain corruption, and make our democracy work for the people in real sense. It goes without saying that a known citizen is better equipped to keep necessary vigil on the instruments of governance and make the government more accountable to the governed. The Act is a huge step towards making the citizens informed about the activities of the Government.
The Right to information in India is governed by two major bodies:
- Central Information Commission (CIC) – Chief Information commissioner who governs all the central departments and ministries- with their own public Information officers (PIO)s. CICs are directly under the President of India.
- State Information Commissions-State Public Information Officers or SPIOs – Leading over all the state department and ministries the SPIO office is directly under the State Governor.
- State and Central Information Commissions are independent bodies and the Central Information Commission has no jurisdiction over the State Information Commission.
A citizen who desires to want some information from a public authority is required to send, along with the application (a Postal order or DD (Demand draft) or a bankers cheque) payable to the Accounts Officer of the public authority as fee prescribed for seeking information. If the citizen is from a disadvantaged community, he/she need not pay. The applicant may also be needed to pay a further fee towards the cost of providing the information, details of which shall be intimated to the applicant by the PIO as prescribed by the RTI ACT.
The Act covers the whole of India excluding Jammu and Kashmir, where J&K Right to Information Act is in force. It includes all the constitutional authorities, including executive, legislature and judiciary; any institution or body established or constituted by an act of Parliament or a state legislature. It is also coined in the Act that bodies or authorities established or constituted by order or notification of appropriate government including bodies “owned, controlled or substantially financed” by the government, or non-Government organizations “substantially financed, directly or indirectly by funds”.