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MEITY issues Clarification regarding orders passed by Central Information Commission on an RTI query with regard to AarogyaSetu App.

Focus:  GS 2 ;  Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.

Why in News?

Attention has been drawn to media reports regarding orders passed by Central Information Commission regarding an RTI query with regard to AarogyaSetu App. As per the orders, of the CIC, CPIOs of MeitY, NeGD and NIC have been directed to appear . MeitY is taking necessary steps to comply with the orders of the CIC.

About Central Information Commission (CIC);-

  • The Central Information Commission was established by the Central Government in 2005. It was constituted through an Official Gazette Notification under the provisions of the Right to Information Act (2005). Hence, it is not a constitutional body.
  • The Central Information Commission is a high-powered independent body which inter alia looks into the complaints made to it and decide the appeals. It entertains complaints and appeals pertaining to offices, financial institutions, public sector undertakings, etc., under the Central Government and the Union Territories.
  • The Chief Information Commissioner heads the Central Information Commission.
  • It hears appeals from information-seekers who have not been satisfied by the public authority and also addresses major issues concerning the RTI Act.
  • CIC submits an annual report to the Union government on the implementation of the provisions of RTI Act.
Office of Central Information Commission : Important Topics for UPSC Exams  | IAS EXAM PORTAL - India's Largest Community for UPSC Exam Aspirants.

Central Information Commission Constitution and Powers in below image;-

UPSC: CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSION – Shanmugam IAS Academy
  • The Chief Information Commissioner and an Information Commissioner shall hold office for such term as prescribed by the Central Government or until they attain the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier. They are not eligible for reappointment.
  • The salary, allowances and other service conditions of the Chief Information Commissioner and an Information Commissioner shall be such as prescribed by the Central Government. But, they cannot be varied to his disadvantage during service.
  • CIC, SIC and RTI helps in Good Governance.
ARC – Citizen Centric Administration (Good Governance) - UPSCTREE

Above image attached regarding pillars of Good Governance.

State Information Commission (SIC);-

  • The Right to Information Act of 2005 provides for the creation of a State Information Commission at the state level.
  • The State Information Commission is a high powered independent body which inter-alia looks into the complaints made to it and decide the appeals.
  • It entertains complaints and appeals pertaining to offices, financial institutions, public sector undertakings, etc. Under the concerned state government.
  • The Commission consists of a State Chief Information Commissioner and not more than ten State Information Commissioners appointed by the Governor.

About Right to Information (RTI);-

  • RTI is an act of the parliament which sets out the rules and procedures regarding citizens’ right to information.
RIGHT TO 
INFORMATION
  • It replaced the former Freedom of Information Act, 2002.
  • Under the provisions of RTI Act, any citizen of India may request information from a “public authority” (a body of Government or “instrumentality of State”) which is required to reply expeditiously or within 30 days.
  • In case of the matter involving a petitioner’s life and liberty, the information has to be provided within 48 hours.
  • The Act also requires every public authority to computerize their records for wide dissemination and to proactively publish certain categories of information so that the citizens need minimum recourse to request for information formally.

Governing of RTI;-

  • The Right to information in India is governed by two major bodies:

Central Information Commission (CIC) ;-

  • Chief Information commissioner who heads all the central departments and ministries- with their own public information officers (PIO)s. CICs are directly under the President of India.

State Information Commissions (SIC);-

  • State Public Information Officers or SPIOs head over all the state department and ministries. The SPIO office is directly under the corresponding State Governor.

State and CIC are independent bodies and CIC has no jurisdiction over the SIC.

Fundamental status of RTI;-

  • RTI is a fundamental right for every citizen of India.
  • Since RTI, is implicit in the Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression under Article 19 of the Indian Constitution, it is an implied fundamental right.

Limitation to RTI;-

  • Information disclosure in India is restricted by the Official Secrets Act 1923 and various other special laws, which the new RTI Act relaxes.
  • RTI has proven to be very useful but is also counteracted by the Whistle Blowers Protection Act, 2011.

Extra Info;-

About Aarogya Setu App ;-

  • It is Indian COVID-19 tracking mobile application. 
  • It is developed by the National Informatics Centre which comes under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.

Purpose:

  • To spread awareness of COVID-19
  • To connect essential COVID-19 – related health services to the people of India.
  • It uses the smartphone’s GPS and Bluetooth features to track the coronavirus infection.
  • With Bluetooth, it determines the risk if one has been near (within six feet of) a COVID-19 – infected person, by scanning through a database of known cases across India. 
  • Using location information, one can determine whether a particular location is one of the infected areas. 
  • It is an updated version of an earlier app called Corona Kavach (now discontinued).
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September 2022
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