Salient Features of RTI Act 2005- The Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005 is a landmark legislation in India that revolutionized the country’s governance landscape
The Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005 is a landmark legislation in India that revolutionized the country’s governance landscape. Enacted to empower citizens and ensure transparency and accountability in public administration, the RTI Act has played a pivotal role in bridging the gap between the government and the people. This article explores the salient features of the RTI Act, highlighting its significance and impact on fostering a culture of openness.
Scope and Applicability:
The RTI Act extends to the whole of India and applies to all public authorities, including the government, legislature, and judiciary. It covers central, state, and local government bodies, as well as non-governmental organizations substantially financed by the government. The Act grants citizens the right to access information from these authorities, promoting transparency at every level.
Salient Features of RTI Act 2005
Right to Information:
The RTI Act recognizes every citizen’s fundamental right to seek information from public authorities. It empowers individuals to obtain records, documents, and other information pertaining to the functioning of public offices, schemes, and programs. This provision allows citizens to actively participate in decision-making processes and hold authorities accountable for their actions.
The Act lays down a simple and user-friendly application process for seeking information. Any citizen can file an application in writing or electronically, addressing the concerned public information officer (PIO). The application should clearly state the information sought and be accompanied by the prescribed application fee, which is nominal.
One of the notable features of the RTI Act is its emphasis on timely response. Upon receiving an application, the PIO is required to respond within 30 days. In exceptional cases where the information concerns a third party, the response time is extended to 45 days. This provision ensures that citizens receive information promptly, enabling informed decision-making and reducing bureaucracy.
Right to Appeal:
The Act recognizes the right to appeal for both the applicant and the PIO. If an applicant is not satisfied with the response received or does not receive a response within the stipulated timeframe, they can file an appeal with a higher authority, known as the first appellate authority. Further, if the applicant is still dissatisfied with the decision of the first appellate authority, they can approach the Information Commission, the final appellate authority.
RTI Act 2005
Public authorities are mandated to maintain and publish certain information proactively. They must disclose information related to their organization, functions, decision-making processes, and public schemes. This proactive disclosure ensures that a significant amount of information is readily available to the public, reducing the burden on citizens to make individual requests.
While promoting transparency, the RTI Act also recognizes that certain information needs to be protected in the interest of national security, privacy, or other legitimate concerns. The Act provides specific exemptions for such information, including defense and security-related matters, trade secrets, personal information, and cabinet proceedings. However, these exemptions are to be interpreted restrictively, with a bias towards disclosure.
To encourage whistleblowing and safeguard those who expose corruption or wrongdoing, the RTI Act includes provisions for whistleblower protection. It prohibits the disclosure of the identity of the whistleblower and provides penalties for any harm caused to them. This provision promotes a culture of integrity and accountability within public institutions.
The Right to Information Act, 2005, has empowered citizens with a tool to access information and hold public authorities accountable. Its salient features, including the right to information, time-bound response, right to appeal, and proactive disclosure, have laid the foundation for a more transparent and participatory democracy in India.