Right to Information Act was enacted in the year 2005. The Act was enacted with an idea to set out the practical regime of right to information for all citizens and to secure access to information under the control of public authorities, in order to promote transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority. The Act mandates every public authority to computerise their records for wide dissemination and to pro-actively publish certain categories of information so that the citizens need minimum recourse to request for information formally. Information disclosure in India was hitherto restricted by the Official Secrets Act 1923 and various other special laws, which the new Right to Information Act now relaxes. The formal recognition of a legal right to information in India occurred more than two decades before legislation was finally enacted, when the Supreme Court of India ruled in State of U.P. v. Raj Narain that the right to information is implicit in the right to freedom of speech and expression explicitly guaranteed in Article 19 of the Indian Constitution. Although after the enactment of Right to Information Act, the citizens of India has got the power to be a part of governance by way of making the governance transparent, but there is still resistance from government agencies in implementing the Right to Information Act and making their records public.
Procedure to file an application under Right to Information Act for seeking information:
A request for seeking information is required to be made on a plain paper to the Public Information Officer. Along with the application, application fee is required to be paid. The fee in Central Government offices is usually ₹ 10/- which can be paid by cash, bank draft, postal order or through post office to the Accounts Officer of the concerned department. In state Governments, the fee for obtaining information is different. No fee or any charges are required to be paid by persons below poverty line.
While drafting the application for seeking information, there is no need to give any reasons for seeking information. Only contact detail of the person seeking information is required to be given. In case, if applicant cannot draft his application for any reason, Public Information Officer is duty-bound to assist such information seeker.
Public Information Officer has to give reply to the application so received under Right to Information Act within 30 days. In case of any information relating to a third party, Public Information Officer gets additional 15 days to consult the concern third party. In case, the information relates to life and liberty of any person, Public Information officer is bound to reply within 48 hours. The Public Information Officer may also deny disclosure of information under sections 8, 9 and 10 of the Right to Information Act, 2005
Appeal and Complaint under Right to Information Act:
In case of non-receipt of any reply/information from the Public Information officer within stipulated time, Complaint against him can directly be filed in Information Commission under section 18 of the Right to Information Act. In case of incomplete/ incorrect information or unjust denial of disclosure of information, first appeal can be filed within 30 days of receipt of the reply, before the Appellate Authority under section 19 (6) of the Right to Information Act. Appellate Authority is the officer senior to the rank of the Public Information Officer in the same Public Authority.
Appellate Authority also gets 30 days to dispose of the first appeal. In case of third party information, he also gets additional 15 days to hear third party as well. In case the decision of the Appellate Authority is not satisfactory, Second Appeal can be filed before the before Information Commission within 90 days of receipt of the decision of the Appellate Authority under section 19 (1) of the Right to Information Act. Information Commission has not been given any time limit to dispose of appeals/ complaints. The decision of the Information Commission is final and binding to all parties. For matters pertaining to Central Government and Union Territory establishments, the Central Information Commission in Delhi has the jurisdiction. For every State Government establishments, the State Information Commission of the state has the jurisdiction over such appeals/ complaints.