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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Right to Information Act

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Right to Information Act 2005

Right to Information Act 2005 (RTI-Act) mandates timely response to citizen requests for government information. It is an initiative taken by Department of Personnel and Training, Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions to provide a– RTI Portal Gateway to the citizens for quick search of information on the details of first Appellate
Authorities,PIOs etc. amongst others, besides access to RTI related information /
disclosures published on the web by various Public Authorities under the
government of India as well as the State Governments. 


When did it come into force? 
It came into force on the 12th October, 2005 (120th day of its enactment on
15th June, 2005). Some provisions have come into force with immediate effect viz.
obligations of public authorities [S.4(1)], designation of Public Information Officers and
Assistant Public Information Officers[S.5(1) and 5(2)], constitution of
Central Information Commission (S.12 and 13), constitution of State Information Commission
(S.15 and 16), non-applicability of the Act to Intelligence and Security Organizations
(S.24) and power to make rules to carry out the provisions of the Act . 


Who is covered? 
The Act extends to the whole of India except the State of Jammu and Kashmir. 


What does information mean? 
Information means any material in any form including records, documents, memos,
e-mails, opinions, advices, press releases, circulars, orders, logbooks, contracts,
reports, papers, samples, models, data material held in any electronic form and information
relating to any private body which can be accessed by a public authority under any
other law for the time being in force but does not include "file notings". 


What does Right to Information mean? 
It includes the right to - inspect works, documents, records. take notes, extracts or certified copies of documents or records. take certified samples of material. obtain information in form of printouts, diskettes, floppies, tapes, video cassettes or
in any other electronic mode or through printouts. 


Who are 'Third Parties'? 
A third party means a person other than the citizen making a request for information
and includes a public authority. Third parties have a right to be heard in respect of
applications and appeals dealing with information submitted by them to the Government in confidence. 


What is the Application Procedure for requesting information? 
Apply in writing or through electronic means in English or Hindi or in the official
language of the area, to the PIO, specifying the particulars of the information sought for. Reason for seeking information are not required to be given; Pay fees as may be prescribed (if not belonging to the below poverty line category). 


Who are Public Information Officers (PIOs)? 
PIOs are officers designated by the public authorities in all administrative units or
offices under it to provide information to the citizens requesting for information
under the Act. Any officer, whose assistance has been sought by the PIO for the
proper discharge of his or her duties, shall render all assistance and for the purpose
of contraventions of the provisions of this Act, such other officer shall be treated as a PIO. 


What are the duties of a PIO? 
PIO shall deal with requests from persons seeking information and where the request
cannot be made in writing, to render reasonable assistance to the person to reduce
the same in writing. If the information requested for is held by or its subject matter is
closely connected with the function of another public authority, the PIO shall transfer,
within 5 days, the request to that other public authority and inform the applicant immediately. PIO may seek the assistance of any other officer for the proper discharge of his/her duties. PIO, on receipt of a request, shall as expeditiously as possible, and in any case within 30 days of the receipt of the request, either provide the information on payment of such fee as may be prescribed or reject the request for any of the reasons specified in . Where the information requested for concerns the life or liberty of a person, the same shall be provided within forty-eight hours of the receipt of the request. If the PIO fails to give decision on the request within the period specified, he shall be deemed to have refused the request. Where a request has been rejected, the PIO shall communicate to the requester (i) the reasons for such rejection, (ii) (ii) the period within which an appeal against such rejection may be preferred, and (iii) (iii) the particulars of the Appellate Authority. PIO shall provide information 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. If allowing partial access, the PIO shall give a notice to the applicant, informing: that only part of the record requested, after severance of the record containing information which is exempt from disclosure, is being provided; the reasons for the decision, including any findings on any material question of fact, referring to the material on which those findings were based; the name and designation of the person giving the decision; the details of the fees calculated by him or her and the amount of fee which the applicant is required to deposit; and his or her rights with respect to review of the decision regarding non-disclosure of part of the information, the amount of fee charged or the form of access provided. If information sought has been supplied by third party or is treated as confidential by that
third party, the PIO shall give a written notice to the third party within 5 days from the
receipt of the request and take its representation into consideration. Third party must be given a chance to make a representation before the PIO within 10 days from the date of receipt of such notice. 


What is the time limit to get the information? 
30 days from the date of application 48 hours for information concerning the life and liberty of a person 5 days shall be added to the above response time, in case the application for information is given to Assistant Public Information Officer. If the interests of a third party are involved then time limit will be 40 days (maximum period + time given to the party to make representation). Failure to provide information within the specified period is a deemed refusal.

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