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The Right to Information
RTI Act, Request & Obatining Informations

The Right to Information Act came into force on the 12th of October, 2005 and gives the citizens of India the right to examine works, documents and records, take notes and extracts of certified copies of government documents and statistics. It also empowers citizens to take samples of material and get information in the electronic and print format.

The authority of the RTI Act is reposed in the Central Information Commission, headed by the Chief Information Commissioner and his team of ten Central Information Commissioners.

The Act applies to all States and Union Territories of India except the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

Obligations of Public Authorities
The Act makes it obligatory for every public authority to maintain, catalogue and index all its records in such a manner so as to facilitate easy access through a country-wide computerized network.

The Act binds public authorities to publish information that is relevant to devise important policies and announcements. Under the Act, its administrative and quasi-judicial decisions are open to question by citizens affected by them.

Every public authority maintains a record of its organisation, role and responsibilities; of its staff; the procedures, norms rules and regulations they follow; the budget allocation and the implementation status of projects; and the names of the Public Information Officers

The public authorities are expected to disseminate information to the public at regular intervals through the media and the internet so as to minimize the use of the Act to extract information.

Request for Obtaining Information
The RTI deems it necessary to appoint an officer at each sub-divisional and sub-district level as a Central Assistant Public Information Officer/State Assistant Public Information Officer to address applications under the Act, and forward them to the Central Public Information Officer.

A written application to the Central Assistant Public Information Officer/State Assistant Public Information Officer can be made in English, Hindi or the local language stating the details of the information required by the individual. The application can also be accepted through electronic means. In case the applicant is unable to communicate his request in writing, the assistance of the officer in charge can be sought.

The RTI Act does not require the applicant to submit any reason for his request for information, nor does he have to produce any personal details other than his contact information.

In case the application applies to a department other than the public authority applied to, the same is forwarded to the appropriate authority by the receiving officer.

Disposal of Request
The Central Assistant Public Information Officer/State Assistant Public Information Officer is bound to provide the information within 30 days of receiving the application or reject the application.

In a case where the life of an individual is in question, information is provided within 48 hours of the request.

The Central Assistant Public Information Officer/State Assistant Public Information Officer is to inform the applicant of the details of the fee required to be paid for accessing the information. The number of days spent on such communication and dispatch of the information are exclusive of the 30-day period. Some governments may waive the fee charges for persons below the poverty line. The fee charges are also waived if the 30 day period is not complied with.

In case the request is rejected, reasons for the same have to be given, along with particulars of the appellate authority and the period within which an appeal against the rejection can be made.

The information asked for is provided in the form desired by the applicant, unless the request is beyond the purview and resources of the public authority, or compromises on the security of the information in question.

Exemptions
As per the RTI Act, information asked for may not be provided if it endangers the security and sovereignty of the country, and has been prohibited by a court of law. If the information demanded involves infringement of trade secrets or intellectual property or threatens the life of another person, or interferes with the proceedings against an offender, the request is not met with by the public authority.

The Central Assistant Public Information Officer/State Assistant Public Information Officer would also refrain from extending information if it is damaging to another individual’s privacy, unless the public’s larger interest is in question.

The Act, however, promises to provide access to that part of the information which is not damaging to public and private interests. The Central Assistant Public Information Officer/State Assistant Public Information Officer would have to inform the applicant that only part information is being provided, and the reason for the decision. The applicant is also entitled to know the name and designation of the official giving such a decision.

 

 

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