The Right to Information Act, 2005 replaced the Freedom of Information Act, 2002. The R.T.I protects the Freedom of Expression and Speech under Article 19(1)(a) And Right to Life & Personal Liberty under Article 21 guaranteed by the Constitution. The Act is a very important tool which gives the power to a common man to question the public authorities. Under section 2(h), public authorities means all authorities and bodies under the government which includes the union, state and local government. The law casts a direct accountability on the officer for non-performance.
It is mandatory for public authorities such as union government or the state government to provide timely response to the citizens’ request for information. If the information is not provided on time by the concerned officer, then a fine of Rs 250 per day will be imposed for the delay by Information Commissioner. Section 20 of the Act provides for the penalties relating to delay in information or incorrect information or when the information is misleading.
It is the function of the Public Information Officer (PIO) or the First Appellate Authority to decide on the application and appeal. Private bodies are not covered under the Act, however, if any private body performs the function of a public authority, then, they will fall within the purview of RTI. This is the only Act which is common-man friendly, i.e; even if an illiterate person approaches a PIO for a certain information and explaining their requirements, the officer may write it down & read-it-aloud to them before processing it. One need not write the application on a clean sheet of paper. Even a crumpled, old, torn piece of paper will do, so long as your written content on it is legible.
When seeking an information from the public authorities, a person is required to send along with the application, a prescribed fee which is payable to the Accounts Officer of the public authority. Currently, there is a facility for filing Online RTI. The Act has prescribed a time limit for the receiving information which is 30 days in case of PIO. Section 7 of the Act prescribes the time frame for providing information by PIO. If the application is filed with Assistant PIO then information has to be made available within 35 days. However, information is to be made within 48 hours if it pertains to life and liberty of a person. Any information which affects the sovereignty and the integrity of India is exempted from the purview of RTI.
R.T.I VS RIGHT TO PRIVACY
Where the Right to Information provides a fundamental right for any person to access information which is held by government bodies on one hand, the right to privacy laws grants individuals a fundamental right to control the collection, access and use of personal information about them held by the government on another hand.
DRAWBACK OF THE ACT
There is a poor record-keeping of files which results in the data being misplaced. Supplementary laws like Whistle Blower’s Act are diluted resulting in loss to RTI information. Sometimes, RTI are filed for publicity stunt and this results to waste of time and energy.
It was observed by the Delhi HC that RTI Act was being misused and the full potential along with its objectives were not achieved due to systematic failures. A lot more needs to be done to usher in accountability in governance, including protection of whistleblowers, decentralization of power and fusion of authority with accountability at all levels.
 Right to Information – Objectives, Provision, Significance, Criticism (byjus.com), visited on 22-07-2021 at 15:40hrs.
I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.
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