Monday, 31 January 2022



The campaign for the Right to Information Grassroots organisations and civil society groups have campaigned for an effective national right to information law since the 1990s. However, it was only in 2002 that the Central Government finally took a step forward, passing the Freedom of Information Act 2002 (FOI Act). Unfortunately, the Act was never brought into force andpeople were never able to exercise their rights under the new law. In 2004, however, the newlyelected United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government promised to make the right toinformation more “progressive, participatory and meaningful”. 

The National Advisory Council (NAC) was set up to oversee the UPA Government’s promise and included key figures in the National Campaign for People’s Right to Information (NCPRI). In August 2004, based onsubmissions made by the NCPRI, CHRI, and other civil society groups, the NAC submitted a set of recommendations to the Government for amending the FOI Act. Drawing heavily on theNAC’s recommendations, in December 2004, the Right to Information Bill 2004 was tabled bythe Government in Parliament. The Bill was finally passed by the Lok Sabha on 11 May 2005 and moved successfully through the Rajya Sabha on 12 May 2005. The Right to Information Act2005 received Presidential assent on 15 June 2005. Some provisions requiring the setting up of acountry-wide system to give citizens access to information came into force immediately. The RTI Act became fully operational on 12 October 2005.

Central Information Commission' means the Information Commission set up by the Central Government. It has overall control and superintendence of all public authorities including all departments of the Central and State Governments and also watches over the progress of their work under the Act. It has also the power to issue certain directions in the matter of implementation of this Act. The Central Information Commission is the backbone of the Right to Information Act. It is an impartial and independent statutory body constituted under section 12 of the Act to discharge its duties without being subjected to directions by any other authority. The Central InformationCommission exercises all such powers and does all such acts and things as provided undersections 18 to 20 of the Act.

Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners are appointed by the Government. They constitute the members of the Central Information Commission. Their appointment is statutory, not constitutional. Their appointment is made by the President in the case of the Central Information Commission and by Governor in the case of State Information Commission. Their duties and functions are set out in section 13 and the reliefs the Central Information Commission can grant are specified in section 18. The Chief Information Commissioner shall be the head of the Chief Information Commission and will be assisted by theCentral Information Commissioners who shall be appointed by the President of India on the recommendations of a committee chaired by the Prime Minister. The other members shall be the Leader of the Opposition and one Union Cabinet Minister nominated by the Prime Minister. These Commissioners shall exercise all such powers and shall perform all such functions mentioned under section 18-20 of this Act without any direction from any outside authority.

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