FEATURES OF RTI:
Some distinctive aspects of RTI are :
PUBLIC AUTHORITY: This act mandates the public authorities to keep clear and concise records of all the work undertaken by them as to make it easier for the general public to access and understand the records. All the records are expected to be in a digitalised manner so that there is a well connected network from which all the information can be acquired easily.
DESIGNATED OFFICERS: The officers appointed for the efficient functioning of the whole procedure are called Public Information Officer (PIO) who are appointed at both, state and central level. The citizens who wish to avail this right have to submit an application with the PIO who further transfers their application to the concerned department and retrieve the requested information within a reasonable amount of time.
PROCEDURE FOR REQUESTING INFORMATION: The procedure to request information is covered under Section 6 of the RTI.According to this, a person can file a request to obtain information from the POI of the concerned public authority in either digital or written form in English or Hindi without having to specify the reason for information sought by him or her.
TIME FRAME FOR TAKING THE REQUIRED ACTION AGAINST THE APPLICATION: This is covered under section 7 of the RTI, 2005. The concerned POI is expected to dispose off the application of RTI within 30 days after receiving the request. And if the solicited information is related to life and liberty of a person, the concerned POI is to take care of the application within 48 hours after receiving the request. The POI, when rejecting a request is supposed to provide the reason for the same.
IMMUNITY FROM DISCLOSURE OF INFORMATION: There are certain instances where the public authority is not compelled to provide information to any citizen such as when it endangers the sovereignty and integrity of the nation, when any court of law has explicitly forbidden it, when it endangers the life of any person etcetera.
RETRIBUTION: When a POI does not discharge his duties properly by not entertaining an application or not endowing the required information within the prescribed time, the central information commissioner or state information commissioner have the authority to impose penalties on the concerned POI.
FEES: The applicants requesting disclosure of information from any public authority are required to submit Rs.5 for examination of records for every hour except for the first hour which is free. People belonging to Below Poverty Line (BPL) are exempted from any fee provided that they submit a proof in support.
APPEAL: An applicant who has been denied the access to information can appeal an officer higher in rank than POI within thirty days of knowing about the non receipt of information. This is covered under section 19 of the RTI Act, 2005.
It is not uncommon to hear stories revolving around influential people engaging in corruption but RTI has enabled the general public to come forward with their concerns and raise the issues of law makers breaking the laws.To improve the current scenario, not only the government, but also people have to take charge and stop having the attitude of “Why should we partake in this? It does not affect us. “ Indian media has a huge role to play here as it can through its sources and power, influence people and make them aware of their rights and duties. This law stands as an example of citizensʼ courage and power being imperative in bringing the change in the higher levels of the government.