Over view of Right to Information Act 2005 


Overview 

Why right to information 
Spirit of Disclosure Preparation Manuals
Salient Features of the Act Request for obtaining Information 
Disposal of Petitions  Information exempt from Disclosure 
Third Party Information Powers and Functions
Appeal  Penalties
Miscellaneous Grounds for Denial of Information
Imposition of Penalties

Overview


India’s right to Information - Enacted on 15th June 2005.

Substantively comes into effect on 12th October 2005 in Tamilnadu.

Covers the whole of India except the State of J&K.

Covers entire Central / State Government / Public Sector. (Including Government funded organizations / institutions, Schools, hospitals, NGOs.)

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Why right to information?

Right to Information is a Fundamental Right and guaranteed as per Article 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India.

It is part of the Fundamental Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression recognized by the Constitution and various Supreme Court decisions.

 

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Spirit of Disclosure
 
To generally provide all information to the public.

Information which cannot be denied to Parliament will not be refused to a citizen.
Even the decisions of the Cabinet and basis thereof are to be made public.
Even exempted information to be disclosed if in “public interest” or if public
interest outweighs loss to private interest.

 

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Preparation Manuals
 
i The particulars of its organizations functions and duties.
ii The powers and duties of its officers and employees.
iii The procedure followed in its decision making process, including channels of supervision and accountability.
iv The norms set by it for the discharge of its functions.
v The rules, regulations, instructions, manuals and records used by its employees for discharging its functions.
vi A statement of the categories of the documents held by it or under its control.
vii The particulars of any arrangement that exists for consultation with or representation by the members of the public, in relation to the formulation of policy or implementation there of.
viii A statement of the boards, councils, committees and other bodies consisting of two or more persons constitute by it. Additionally, information as to whether the meetings of these are open to the public or the minutes of such meeting are accessible to the public.
ix A directory of its officers and employees.
x The monthly remuneration received by each of its officers and employees, including the system of compensation as provided in its regulations.
xi The budget allocated to each of its agency indicating the particulars of all plans, proposed expenditure and reports on disbursements made.
xii The manner of execution of subsidy programmes, including the amounts allocated and the details and beneficiaries of such programmes.
xiii Particulars of recipients of concessions, permits or authorizations granted by it.
xiv Details of the information available to, or held by it reduced in an electronic form.
xv The particulars of facilities available to citizen for obtaining information, including the working hours of a library or reading room, if maintained for public use.
xvi The names, designation and other particulars of the Public Information Officers.

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Salient Features of the Act
 
As per Sec.2(i) the Public can get information on the following which includes records, documents, memos, e mails, opinions, advices, press releases, circulars, orders, log books, contracts, reports, samples, models, data/material in electronic form. 

As per Sec.3 of the Act the citizens shall have the right to information.

Appointment of Public Information Officer/Assistant Public Information Officer.
As per Section 5(i) every Public authority shall designate PIO in all administrative Unit / Offices as may be necessary with the following.
a   Set up their Front Offices
b Give them Facilities
c Computer, Net-working, Staff to afford assistance to Public.


Sec.5(2) provides powers to AIPOs to receive application from the public and to forward it to PIO. Senior-most Officer shall be appointed as AIPO.

Sec.5(3) 

1 To receive applications from Public for information or appeals under this Act.
2 To deal with requests of persons seeking information and render reasonable assistance to the persons seeking information.
3 Forward the same to PIO/Appellate Authority / Commission (Central/State), as the case may be.
4 Applications pertaining to other Public Authority shall also have to be accepted vide Sec.6(3).
5 To dispose off requests by written orders (Sec.7).
6 To render reasonable assistance to persons seeking information.
7  To ensure that interests of third party are not adversely affected.


Sec.5(4)
Permits the PIO to seek assistance of any other officers for proper discharge of duties.

Section 5(5)
The Officer whose assistance has been sought is duty bound to give all assistance as required by the PIO 

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Request for obtaining Information 

As per Sec.6(1)
a person who seeks information shall make a request in writing or through electronic means in English or Tamil along with such fee as prescribed.

* The application must contain the name and address of the applicant.
* Must describe information requested 
* Must be accompanied with the prescribed fee Rule 4(4) and 6(1)

Note:-

To verify at the outset whether application requesting for information is accompanied by proof of payment of fees. So far no format is prescribed. Oral request not permitted. Further Fees from applicant to provide information (Sec.7 Sub.Section(3)). No fees from applicant below poverty line. (Sec.7 Sub Section 5).

Under Section 6(2) there is total prohibition on asking for reasons.

Under Sec.6(3) the transfer of applications is permitted if Information is held by another public authority. Where the subject matter is more closely connected with another public authority within 5 days of receipt of applications.

Transfer is possible only when information pertains to another public authority. Applicant has to be informed immediately. Transfer in part is also permitted.
Act does not give any power to PIO to reject applications NOT accompanied with proof of payment of fees.

In such cases with hold the supply of information because penal consequences in these circumstances will not be attracted.

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Disposal of Petitions 

As per Sec.7(1)
Disposal of request should be made within 30 days. Provided that where the information sought for concerns the life or liberty of a person the same should be provided within 48 hours of the receipt of request.

As per Sec.7(2) If the reply is not sent within the time stipulated it shall b deemed to have refused the request.

As per Sec.7(3) further fees can be sought for to provide information from the applicant.

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Information Exempt from Disclosure

Sec.8(1) provides exemption from disclosure of information. They are detailed below.
a Sovereignty and integrity of country
b Prohibited by any Court of Law
c Breach of Privilege of Parliament or State Legislature
d Commercial Confidence, Trade Secret, intellectual Prosperity, Competitive position of any third party can get affected.
e Information available in any fiduciary relationship.
f Information received in confidence from any Foreign Government.
g Information, the disclosure of which would endanger the life or physical safety of any person.
h Cabinet papers and records of deliberations
i Decisions reasons and relevant material allowed after the matter is closed.
j Directly relevant to Income Tax.
k Security of Country.
l Strategic Scientific Economic interests of country.

Note:-

But if personal information is of nature which cannot be denied to Parliament, it shall not be exempt.

Sec.9 provides grounds for rejection to access would involve on infringement of copy right subsisting in person other than the State.

As per Sec.10 of the Act, where the request for access to information is rejected access may be provided to that part of the record. 

For information sought is partly exempt remaining can be provided
Remaining part of a RECORD can be supplied
To the extent THAT RECORD Containing the information can be severed from the exempt information.

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Third Party Information
Sec.11(1) permits the PIO to seek information from Third party within 5 days from the receipt of the request give a written notice to such third party of the request.

Sec.11(2) Where a notice is served by the PIO for any information, the third party shall within 10 days from the date of receipt of such notice, be given an opportunity to make representation against the proposed disclosure.

Once an opportunity to third party has been given the following situation may arise.

FIRST


Third party does not avail of the opportunity within ten days
OR
Third party does not object.

The information can be disclosed BUT THE TIME LIMIT IS NOT EXTENDED.

SECOND

The third party objects to disclosure of information sought in the application.

Then two situations arise.
A. The PIO accepts the objection of the third party.
By implication he is refusing to supply the information to the applicant.
The PIO has to pass an order u/s 7, serve it upon the Applicant and inform the Third arty accordingly.

B. The PIO does not agree with the objection of the third party. 
By implication the PIO intends disclosing the information to the applicant the PIO has to give a NOTICE OF HIS DECISION in writing to the third party within 40 days of the receipt of the request.

Note:-
The PIO cannot disclose the information to the applicant till the appeal time expires to the third party. If appeal is filed by the third party, till the time it becomes FINAL.

As per Section 15(1) and (2) the Tamilnadu State Information Commission was constituted with the State Chief Information Commissioner and two State Information Commissioners in G.O.Ms.No.988, Public, dated 7.10.2005 and published in Tamilnadu Extra Ordinary Gazette No.219 dated 7.10.05 Part II Section 2.

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Powers and Functions of the information Commission, Appeal and Penalties:- 

As per Sec.18(i)
of the act the State information Commission shall receive and inquire into a complaint from any person when 

1 Applicant not able to submit request application seeking information.
2 No Officer appointed.
3 Refused by APIO to receive application for information or appeal.
4 Applicant denied access to information requested.
5 No response to request within the time limit.
6 Fees Charges is considered unreasonable.
7 Applicant alleges that information is incomplete, Misleading OR False.
8 Any other matter concerning request or obtaining information.

Sec.18(2) states where the State Information Commission is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to inquire into the matter it may initiate an enquiry in respect there of. 

Sec.18(3) provides power to the State Information Commission as vested in a civil Court while trying a suit under the code of Civil Procedure 1908.

Sec.18(4) provides power to State Information Commission that during the inquiry of any complaint under this Act can examine any record to which this act applies and no such record may be with held from it on any grounds.

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Appeal 


As per Sec.19(1)
appeal can be filed either by applicant or by the third party within 30 days from the receipt of decision given by PIO. 

There is no prescribed fees in the Act for filing either the first appeal or the second appeal.

Sec.19(3) provides a second appeal within 90days from the date of receipt of decision received.
Sec.19(6) provides for the disposal of appeal within 30 days from the date of receipt of appeal OR to the maximum of 45 days.

As per Sec.19(7) the decision of the State Information Commission, as the case may be shall be binding.

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Penalties


Sec.20(1)
provides power the State Information Commission to impose a penalty of Rs.250/- per day till application is received OR information is furnished, so however, the total amount of such penalty shall not exceed Rs.25000/-

Provided that the State Information Officer, as the case may be, shall be given a reasonable opportunity of being heared before any penalty is imposed on him.

As per Sec.20(2) the State Public Information Committee shall recommend for disciplinary action against the State Public Information Officer, as the case may be under the Service Rules applicable to him.

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Miscellaneous


Sec.21
. No suit, prosecution or other legal proceeding shall lie against any person for anything which is in good faith done or intended to be done under this Act or any rule made thereunder.

Sec.23. No court shall entertain any suit, application or other proceeding in respect of any order made under this Act and no such order shall be called in question otherwise than by way of an appeal under this Act.

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Grounds for Denial of Information


As per Sec.24 of the Act intelligence and Security Organizations established by the Central Government and Listed in of the Act, shall not apply.

2.Information pertaining to allegations of Corruption is not excluded.
3.Information pertaining to Human Rights Violation can be given after approval of Central Information Commission TIME ALLOWED 45 days.

Without reasonable cause
OPINION +
Persistently
Done the Acts on which penalty can be imposed.

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Imposition of Penalties is based only on opinion formed by the Commission 

PIOs HAVE TO ACT VERY CAUTIOUSLY


APPEALS
Appeal can be filed either by the applicant or by the third party.
1 Decision NOT received  Applicant 
2 Excess fees charged u/s 7(3)(a)
3 Unsatisfactory mode of information


Time Limit Within 30days of expiry of time u/s 7(1)(a)
Relaxation possible on sufficient cause

APPEALS
Applicant: Third Party can made appeals.
* Aggrieved by Decision of PIO
Time Limit : Within 30 days of receipt of decision
Relaxation possible on sufficient cause.

APPEALS
Third Party
Aggrieved by Decision of PIO
Time Limit : Within 30 days from date of order 
Relaxation possible on sufficient cause.
NOTE Date of Order : NOT Date of receipt.

APPEALS
There is NO prescribed fees in the Act for filling either the first appeal or the Second appeal.

SECOND APPEALS
Second appeal lies before the Commission.

Time Limit:- Within 90 days from the date on which first appeal decision should have been made.
Within 90 days from date on which first appeal decision was actually received.
Relaxation possible on sufficient cause.

SECOND APPEALS

Within 30days of receipt of appeal.
Extension possible upto 45 days from the date of receipt of appeal after reasons to be recorded in writing.

DECISION OF COMMISSION IS BINDING.

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