From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : RTI
Mains level : Pendency of RTI cases
Fifteen years after the Right to Information (RTI) Act came into force; more than 2.2 lakh cases are pending at the Central and State Information Commissions, which are the final courts of appeal under the transparency law.
Try this question:
Q.“RTI is a tool for empowering ordinary citizens and changing the culture of governance in India.” Discuss.
Right to Information
- RTI is an act of the parliament which sets out the rules and procedures regarding citizens’ 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.
- 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.