The RTI or Right to Information Act 2005 is a path-breaking legislation that signals the march from the darkness of secrecy to the dawn of transparency.
Basically, the Right to Information Act was enacted on 12 October 2005. The act is originally derived from the Fundamental Right of ‘Freedom of speech and expression‘ under Article 19 of the Indian Constitution.
Before the implementation of this act, Indian citizens did not have any detailed information about the various functions and programs of the government.
As a result of this, corruption was being encouraged continuously, as people could not collect the accounts of any work of the government. The opacity between the government and the citizens was expanding.
Meanwhile, the idea of this act was first introduced by the then Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh when he highlighted in a public speech that – “The citizens are the center of democratic governance. Every Citizen has the right to participate in public life, governance and society“.
Thereafter, this act was implemented in 2005 to prevent corruption and bring transparency in the work of the government before the public, and to connect the common citizens with the government.
The act is currently applicable all over India.
After the implementation of the Act, Indian citizens were given the right to access public information under the Right to Information Act 2005.
So that whenever a person wants, can get a complete account of any work of the government.
Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI)
The information obtained under this right can be used for many purposes i.e. this right is very beneficial for the government and government employees, departments, or offices to remove the possibility of scams and to find out the truth.
Right to Information also works to reduce the distance between the government and the public. Under this, citizens can get information related to any area from the government in a short time.
Features of Right to Information / RTI
Below are the features of the Right to Information (RTI) –
- Before the RTI Act transparency was an exception and secrecy was the rule however after the implementation of the RTI rules transparency has become a rule and secrecy is an exception.
- It provides the right to all Indian citizens that they can get information related to any field and work from the government whenever they want.
- The Right to Information Act 2005 (RTI Act 2005) along with curbing corruption also instills public confidence in the government.
- It works to bring transparency in all the work of the government.
- In order to get the benefit of the Right to Information Act 2005 to all citizens, it has been kept free of cost for the citizens living below the poverty line.
- It helps citizens to write and submit RTI letters.
- It empowers citizens to obtain any information related to matters of life and liberty within 48 hours. Apart from this, it has been ensured to provide the information to citizens within 30 days to get the information in other cases.
- If the information is not given before the deadline, free information is provided to the applicant as a fine.
Organizations under the Right to Information Act, 2005
- All Public Authorities or institutions within the public domain
- Semi-government institutions or Government funded private bodies
Under the Right to Information Act 2005, if a person wants to get information in any area, then he can apply through a written letter or through the form prevalent by the provincial governments or through an online medium.
Under this, he has to send the letter to the Public Information Officer (PIO) or Assistant Public Information Officer of the department from which he wants to get the information.
To submit an RTI application, the applicant needs to provide some important information such as – his name, address, mobile number, etc. Also, he has to deposit a fee of 10 rupees in various forms like – Through Challan, Postal order, Rs. 10 stamp etc.
How to file an RTI application online
The central government has launched a portal named RTI Online. This portal is very useful for those willing to seek information related to any department of the central government.
One can simply file an RTI application sitting at home just by visiting the online portal of RTI here – RTI Online.
It is pertinent to mention that, after the successful implementation of the Central Government’s Online RTI Portal, various States have adopted this method to facilitate the access of information to their citizens.
However, many states have not yet implemented an online RTI portal and in these states, citizens should have to visit the office and submit their application manually to the concerned PIO.
Penalty for negligence in right to information
If you want to get information from any department and even after the prescribed time limit (48 hours in cases related to life and liberty, 30 days in other cases) that officer does not provide you information, then it is considered that the officer does not want to give information to the citizens and in such a case, action is taken against that officer for violation of the provisions of the RTI Act 2005.
As a proceeding, that officer may also be suspended or fined up to Rs. 250 per day may also be imposed.
RTI and its misuse
RTI act gives Indian citizens a right to raise their voices against corruption. We the people of India pay tax, from our pockets, for the development of this nation, thereafter the salary of the government officers is paid out indirectly from our pockets hence we must have the right to check the functions and performances of the government and its employees to make them all more accountable.
The RTI Act, of 2005 is considered one of the major initiatives in India to promote good Governance. Right to information is a ‘master key’ to good governance, however, it can be possible that all information requested under the RTI applications is not always intended to highlight the irregularities of the government or its offices. The critical analysis and experts’ opinions in this regard are given in the video below. You can watch this wonderful debate to figure out the potential misuse of the RTI.
The Right to Information Act 2005 was enacted to increase the participation of citizens in the government and to draw the attention of the public towards the works of the government and promote political consciousness among the citizens.
This was a historic step, as it promoted social justice, as well as was the best way to curb corruption.
Friends, today you know what is the Right to Information Act and how to file RTI requests, etc.
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