What is RTI Act 2005? How to write an RTI to Public Information Officer for access to the information?

The Right to Information Act 2005 has come into force on 12th October 2005. The RTI act has introduced to provide for setting out the practical regime of right to information for citizens to secure access to information under the control of public authorities, the constitution of a Central Information Commission and State Information Commission has constituted as monitoring authority for the matters of public information. Here Right to Information means the right to information accessible under this act.

The RTI Act plays a pivotal role in informed citizenry and transparency of information which are vital to its functioning also to contain corruption, and to hold government and their instrumentalities accountable to the governed.

Revealing of information in actual practice is likely to conflict with other public interests including efficient operations of the Governments, optimum use of limited fiscal resources, and the preservation of confidentiality of sensitive information.

It is expedient to provide certain information to citizens who desire to have it and the right to information accessible under this act which is held by or under the control of any public authority which is mentioned below:

(i) Inspection of work, documents, records;

(ii) Taking notes, extracts, or certified copies of documents or records;

(iii) Taking certified samples of material;

(iv) Obtaining information in the form of diskettes, floppies, tapes, video cassettes, or in any other electronic mode or through printouts where such information is stored in a computer or any other device.

Here “Third party” means a person other than the citizen requesting information and includes a public authority.

Right to information and obligations of public authorities 3 Subject to the provisions of this Act, all citizens shall have the right to information. 4 (1) Every public authority shall— (a) maintain all its records duly cataloged and indexed in a manner and the form which facilitates the right to information under this Act and ensures that all records that are appropriate to be computerized are, within a reasonable time and subject to availability of resources, computerized and connected through a network.

A person, who desires to obtain any information under this Act, shall make a request in writing or through electronic means in English or Hindi or in the official language of the area in which the application is being made, accompanying such fee as may be prescribed, to—

Provided that where such request cannot be made in writing, the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, shall render all reasonable assistance to the person making the request orally to reduce the same in writing.

An applicant making request for information shall not be required to give any reason for requesting the information or any other personal details except those that may be necessary for contacting him.

State Public Information Officer, or public information officer of the concerned office where a request has made, the concerned officer must provide the information as expeditiously as possible, and in any case within 30 days of the receipt or request, either provide the information on payment of such fees as may be prescribed or reject the request for any of the reasons specifies in section 8 and 9. The person requesting the information shall be provided the information free of charge where a public authority fails to comply with the time limits specified or else he is deemed to pay the penalty.

Provided that where the information sought concerns the life or liberty of a person, the same shall be provided within forty-eight hours of the receipt of the request.

Where access to information is to be provided in the printed or any electronic format, the applicant shall, subject to the provisions of sub-section (6), pay such fee as may be prescribed: fees shall be reasonable and no such fee shall be charged from the persons who are of below poverty line as may be determined by the appropriate Government.

If the request has been rejected by the competent officer under sub-section (1) the Public information officer shall communicate to the person making the request.

1) Reasons for such rejection;

2) Period within which an appeal against such rejection may be preferred;

3) Particulars of the appellate authority.

An information shall ordinarily be provided in the form in which it is sought unless it would disproportionately divert the resources of the public authority or would be detrimental to the safety or preservation of the record in question. 8 (1) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, there shall be no obligation to give any citizen,— Below is the information where a Public Information officer can deny to the give and reject to give the information.

(a) Information, disclosure of which would prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security, strategic, scientific or economic interests of the State, relation with foreign State or lead to incitement of an offense;

(b) Information which has been expressly forbidden to be published by any court of law or tribunal or the disclosure of which may constitute contempt of court;

(c) Information, the disclosure of which would cause a breach of privilege of Parliament or the State Legislature;

(d) Information including commercial confidence, trade secrets or intellectual property, the disclosure of which would harm the competitive position of a third party, unless the competent authority is satisfied that larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information;

(e) Information available to a person in his fiduciary relationship, unless the competent authority is satisfied that the larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information;

(f) Information received in confidence from foreign Government;

(g) Information, the disclosure of which would endanger the life or physical safety of any person or identify the source of information or assistance given in confidence for law enforcement or security purposes;

(h) Information which would impede the process of investigation or apprehension or prosecution of offenders;

(i) Cabinet papers including records of deliberations of the Council of Ministers, Secretaries, and other officers: Provided that the decisions of Council of Ministers, the reasons thereof, and the material based on which the decisions were taken shall be made public after the decision has been taken, and the matter is complete, or over: Provided further that those matters which come under the exemptions specified in this section shall not be disclosed;

(j) Information which relates to personal information the disclosure of which has no relationship to any public activity or interest, or which would cause unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the individual unless the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer or the appellate authority, as the case may be, is satisfied that the larger public interest justifies the disclosure of such information: Provided that the information which cannot be denied to the Parliament or a State Legislature shall not be denied to any person.

It is a right of citizens to get access to a piece of information from the public office. To get information one has to follow the due procedure by submitting the requisition application duly attesting the fees of Rs.10/- is being remitted vide Indian Postal Order/ eIPO/ Bank Draft/ Cheque No, etc to be enclosed (10 Rupee stamp) and get the acknowledgment from the Public Information Officer PIO in the concerned office where RTI requisition is given.

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