The much talked about Right to Information Act came into force on October 12. The Union government says the Act is revolutionary, as it opens all official departments across the country to public scrutiny. The government also claims the new law will help it share power with the humblest, and empower the weakest The Right to Information (RTI) Act is a law enacted by the Parliament of India to provide for setting out the practical regime of right to information for citizens. It was passed by Parliament on 15 June 2005 and came fully into force on 13 October 2005. The RTI Act mandates timely response to citizen requests for government information. It applies to all States and Union Territories of India, except the State of Jammu and Kashmir, which is covered under a State-level law.The Act relaxes the Official Secrets Act of 1889 which was amended in 1923 and various other special laws that restricted information disclosure in India. In other words, the Act explicitly overrides the Official Secrets Act and other laws in force as on 15 June 2005 to the extent of any inconsistency.
Under the provisions of the Act, any citizen (excluding the citizens within J&K) may request information from a 'public authority' (a body of Government or 'instrumentality of State') which is required to reply expeditiously or within thirty days. The Act also requires every public authority to computerise 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.
It is a new law that the Indian government has enacted. It gives every citizen the fundamental right to seek information from any government department. The Act aims to promote openness, transparency and accountability in governance.Information, as per the Act, includes records, documents, file nothings, memos, e-mails, opinions, advices, press releases, circulars, orders, logbooks, contracts, reports, papers, samples, models, data and material held in any electronic or printed form.Information is indispensable for the functioning of a true democracy. The right to know is closely linked with other basic rights like freedom of speech and expression and right to education.In a country like India, availability of information to the people needs to be assured in the fastest and simplest form possible. The advocates of the Act argue that free flow of information from the government will not only create an enlightened and informed public opinion, but also render those in authority accountable. According to former attorney general Soli Sorabjee, "Lack of transparency was one of the main causes for all pervading corruption and Right to Information would lead to openness, accountability and integrity."Red tapism and an insensitive bureaucracy had often been the hurdles to getting information from the government. Often, the Official Secrets Act would be waved to deter information seekers.In the last decade, activists, rights groups and politicians have been campaigning for such a law. In Various activist groups formed the National Campaign for the People's Right to Information, to demand the legislation.
The Campaign, shepherded by activist Aruna Roy, was instrumental in the introduction of the Freedom of Information Bill in the Lok Sabha in July 25, 2000.The bill was enacted as the Freedom of Information Act in 2002. But the Act retained a number of restrictive provisions to deny information to the public.The parameters of the new law are amazing by any stretch of imagination. If used with zeal, this Act will make the real difference to way we live and behave in public and the way we use, misuse and abuse public money.This law helps us as First, besides serving the high ideals of democracy and humane society, this Act will make Indians more powerful because information is power in today's world. Second, the Act will also strike at the roots of corruption because corruption...
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