Why in news?
The Central Information Commission (CIC) is set to start hearing Right to Information (RTI) Act applications of applicants from the UTs of J&K and Ladakh from tomorrow 15 May 2020.
The Minister also informed that any citizen of India can now file RTI pertaining to matters related to J&K and Ladakh, which was reserved to only Citizens of erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir, before the Reorganisation Act of 2019.
Right to Information (RTI) Act
Right to Information (RTI) is an act of the Parliament of India which sets out the rules and procedures regarding citizens’ right to information.
Under the RTI Act, 2005, Public Authorities are required to make disclosures on various aspects of their structure and functioning.
- disclosure on their organisation, functions, and structure,
- powers and duties of its officers and employees, and
- financial information.
Note: “Public Authorities” here includes bodies of self-government established under the Constitution, or under any law or government notification. E.g.: Ministries, public sector undertakings, and regulators. It also includes any entities owned, controlled or substantially financed and non-government organizations substantially financed directly or indirectly by funds provided by the government.
- The intent of such suo moto disclosures is that the public should need minimum recourse through the Act to obtain such information.
- If such information is not made available, citizens have the right to request for it from the Authorities.
- This may include information in the form of documents, files, or electronic records under the control of the Public Authority.
- The intent behind the enactment of the Act is to promote transparency and accountability in the working of Public Authorities.
Is RTI a Fundamental Right?
- RTI is a fundamental right for every citizen of India.
- The authorities under RTI Act 2005 are called quasi-judicial authorities.
- This act was enacted in order to consolidate the fundamental right in the Indian constitution ‘freedom of speech’.
- Since RTI is implicit in the Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression under Article 19 of Indian Constitution, it is an implied fundamental right.
Enforcement of RTI
The Act has established a three-tier structure for enforcing the right to information guaranteed under the Act.
- The first request for information goes to Central/State Assistant Public Information Officer and Central/State Public Information Officer, designated by the Public Authorities. These Officers are required to provide information to an RTI applicant within 30 days of the request.
- Appeals from their decisions go to an Appellate Authority.
- Appeals against the order of the Appellate Authority go to the State Information Commission or the Central Information Commission. These Information Commissions consists of a Chief Information Commissioner, and up to 10 Information Commissioners.