Right to information (RTI) is a basic Human Right and Fundament Right in India. RTI Helpdesk of India has been protecting this valuable right for long. It has provided many “Annual Reviews” regarding right to information in India from time to time. It is also the first helpdesk in India that has been established byPerry4Law. Mr. B.S.Dalal, Senior Member of RTI Helpdesk and Praveen Dalal, Managing Member of RTI Helpdesk have strongly recommended for “suitable amendments” in the Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI Act, 2005).
The right to impart and receive information is a species of the right to freedom of speech and expression guaranteed by Article 19(1) (a) of the Constitution of India. A citizen has a Fundamental Right to use the best means of imparting and receiving information.
The State is not only under an obligation to respect the Fundamental Rights of the citizens, but also equally under an obligation to ensure conditions under which the Right can be meaningfully and effectively be enjoyed by one and all.
Freedom of speech and expression is basic to and indivisible from a democratic polity. The right U/A 19(1) (a) is, however, available only to the citizens of India and non-citizens can claim only right to know U/A 21 of the Constitution of India.
Recognising the right to information (RTI) of “citizens” of India, the RTI Act, 2005 has been enacted. The RTI Act 2005 was enacted on 21-06-05 and it finally and fully came into force on 12-10-05. However, with the passage of time and many experiences, it has been felt by RTI Experts and Activists like B.S.Dalal and Praveen Dalal that suitable amendments must be made in the parent legislation.
Many controversial issues have been arising these days and the same are shaking the very foundation of the RTI Act, 2005. There is an emergent need to “clarify” some provisions and to “add” further provisions to make RTI Act, 2005 more effective, transparent and workable, says activists of RTI Helpdesk.
Scope of RTI Act, India 2005
Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President of USA(1801-09) and author of the Declaration of Independence says “A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine”. A thought provoking statement with lot of depth to it. It just doesn’t talk of majority in the parliament but about all those wrong-doers who wish to grow their wealth at the expense of everyone else.
Right to Information Act, was brought on the table and made a reality just to counter such elements of the society. RTI guarantees transparency of Information that is vital to its functioning and to contain corruption. In other words, it aids to hold governments and their instrumentalities accountable to the governed.
We will try and understand more about the SCOPE of RTI, What information is accessible and what isn’t.
SCOPE of RTI
The following Governments, Organizations and bodies are covered under RTI and are subject to it. * Central, State and Local Governments.
* All bodies owned, controlled or substantially financed by these governments. * NGOs (Non Government Organizations) substantially financed directly or indirectly by appropriate government funds. * Executive, Judiciary and legislature wings.
* The Act applies to all States and Union Territories of India, except the State of Jammu and Kashmir - which is covered under a State-level RTI law.
Information that can be seeked under RTI
The Act specifies that citizens have a right to:
* Request any information (as defined).
* Obtain copies of documents.
* Inspect documents, works and records.
* Take certified samples of materials of work.
* Obtain information about material held in any form (Electronic Media included) such as o Records
o Opinions & Advices
o Press Releases
o Circulars, orders & logbooks