Right to Information Act 2005 and Its Role in Democratic Governance

Mon Sep 26, 2022

The unshackled or free flow of information is a critical pillar of a healthy democracy. The fundamental right to free speech and expression, which includes the freedom to acquire information, is guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of the Indian constitution.

In the landmark 1976 case of Raj Narain v. State of Uttar Pradesh, the Supreme Court of India upheld a decision by the high court which mandated the release of an unpublished government document. This judgment paved the way for the Right to Information Act. This revolutionary act, usually referred to as RTI Act, seeks to improve government organizations' transparency.

Right to Information Act 2005

The Right to Information Act of 2005 replaced the Freedom of Information Act of 2002. The primary flaw of the original act was that it did not recognize the public's right to information and limited the appeals to internal government bodies. The RTI act seeks to address the shortcomings of the freedom of information act and increase the effectiveness of the law by making it more affordable and accessible to all Indian citizens who seek information.

The Right to Information Act was a ground-breaking tool for the Indian people in promoting, defending, and upholding their right to information. It allows any Indian public authority the ability to request information. NRIs and foreign nationals are not eligible for the freedom to information act of 2005. Under the Right to Information Act, people can request information from public authorities, including government organizations. The statute outlines the guidelines and steps for making an information request. Any official government document can be requested, and certified copies of it can be obtained.

How to file RTI

  • The application can be handwritten/typed on a piece of paper. The applicant can use English, Hindi, or the state's official language. In some states, RTI applications must follow a specific format. The application should be addressed to the department's PIO (Public Information Officer).
  • The inquiry should be specific and comprehensive and should avoid any confusion.
  • The complete name, phone number, and address where you want the information or response to your RTI has to be mentioned.
  • It is recommended that the information seeker should keep a photocopy of the application for their records.
  • If the application is being sent through the post, it is recommended that you should opt for registered mail since, in this case, you will receive a confirmation that your request was delivered.

  • Some states and Central government departments offer the public the facility of submitting RTIs online. Online RTI for central government can be applied through the official portal https://rtionline.gov.in.

  • On this page, click the submit request option. The "Guidelines for the use of RTI ONLINE PORTAL" page will appear. Various instructions for utilizing the RTI online portal can be found on this screen. Select the checkbox, then press the submit button.

  • The screen for the online RTI request form will then appear. From the Select Ministry/Department/Apex body option, choose the ministry or department for which the applicant wants to submit an RTI.

  • SMS notifications will be sent to that device if the applicant gives a mobile number. The fields with an asterisk (*) are required; all others are optional.

Features of the Right to Information Act

The three main objectives of the RTI Act are to improve transparency, decrease corruption, and increase accountability in all public authorities. Any government organization, local, state, or federal, must respond to an RTI request. Under the RTI Act, all government-owned organizations must submit information.

A Public Information Officer (PIO) is appointed to address RTI inquiries. This individual accepts the request forms and provides the requested information to the public. Assistant PIOs assist in providing information at the district or divisional levels.

One key feature of the RIT Act is that it has made the entire process of seeking information from public bodies very seamless. People can opt for online or offline channels to request information under the RTI Act. The public body is required to aid and provide access to the requested papers for applicants who are deaf, blind, or otherwise disabled.

The requester is not required to provide any additional personal information or to state their justification for wanting the data. Suppose the PIO or Appellate authorities fail to provide the application with the requested information on time. In that case, the applicant may file a complaint directly with the State Information Commissions (SICs) or Central Information Commissions (CICs).

Role of RTI in reducing corruption in India

People worldwide struggle with corruption, which results in a lack of accountability, transparency, institutional infrastructure, knowledge, etc. It is the abuse of authority and resources by the state and people for personal gain.

Following the RTI Act's implementation in 2005, social activists, civil society organizations, and ordinary citizen organizations successfully used the law to fight corruption and advance openness and accountability in government.

Right to Information Act, 2005 and its objective

The main objective of the RTI Act is to empower citizens by providing transparency into the working of the government at every level. The act does this by:

Improving accessibility: Before the implementation of RTI, only members of parliament had the authority to request any information from the government. Now information seekers can quickly get the details they seek from the government thanks to provisions in RTI.

Making the process less time-consuming: With the implementation of RTI, all government departments are required by law to respond to an information request within 30 days or 35 days if the request is moved to another public authority.

Looking for a comprehensive overview of the RTI act 2005 and want to learn how to file RTI effectively? Click here to register for our course.

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