Friday, 4 February 2022

Right to Information

 RIGHT TO INFORMATION

Information broadens our consciousness and eliminates the haziness of our beliefs. The Freedom of Information Bill 2000 was introduced in parliament on July 25, 2000; however, there have been previous instances where a proposal on a similar subject has been moved into the house, dating back to 1966 when the Press Council of India prepared a draught bill in order to secure the right to information, and again in 1997 when the Institute of Rural Development, Hyderabad prepared a bill, both of which had sparked a debate on the subject. The working group's study concluded that the right to information is not only achievable, but also necessary. Because the right to information has already been judicially recognised as a part of the basic right to free speech and expression, the Working Group proposed that the law be renamed the Freedom of Information Bill.

The right of a person to know information about a public act conducted by public authority is not just a legislative right, but also a basic right. It is essential for effective governance because it makes government authorities more open and responsible to the general public.

 

Characteristics of the 2005 Right to Information Act

  • Public agencies are required to give any information requested by a citizen, as well as to distribute the information to the individual who made the request. However, this Act imposes specific requirements in terms of national security, personal information, and other people's information.

  • The authority has a 30-day time restriction for providing information.

  • If the authority refuses to provide any information, the person has the right to appeal to a higher authority. They can then file a second appeal with the "central information commission/state information commission" later.

  • In these situations, local court orders will be ignored.

 

The Act further stated that anybody may submit a written request to a public information officer (PIO) appointed by the authority covered by the Act. It is a legal need to respond to citizen requests. If the officer is not available, the applicant may make a request with the state's "central information commission." It also sets a time restriction so that the procedure may be completed quickly. For various scenarios, different time restrictions are set:

  •  Any PIO who accepts an application is required to respond within 30 days, and any application handed to an assistant PIO must be responded to within 35 days.

  • The application is transferred to another PIO in 30 days, starting or counting from the day it is moved.

  • Any application for information on corruption by any schedule secured agency or any sort of human rights violation that is covered by schedule II of the RTI Act shall be responded to within 45 days with the permission of the central information commission.

  • The PIO is expected to provide information about the person's "right to life and liberty."

The Supreme Court held in Bennett Coleman vs. Union of India[1] that "our basic right to knowledge falls within the ambit of article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India. The court stated in Express Newspaper Ltd VS. Union of India[2] that the primary goal of the right to freedom of speech and expression is for people to be allowed to create their own opinions and freely transmit them to others.



The right to information is a tool in people' hands to learn about the activities performed by public authorities, the aim of public transactions ostensibly carried out in the name of the public act, and the source of funds used to carry out such tasks. Because it is regarded one of the fundamental rights under the ambit of Article 19(1), the right to information existed prior to the passage of the Right to Information Act, 2005. (a). This right promotes openness and accountability in the performance of public functions. Although the right to information is regarded as a step forward in India, it has a number of flaws that need to be addressed.


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