Landmark Judgements on Right to Information Act, 2005

 The Right to Information Act (RTI) is an Indian law that establishes the rules and processes for individuals’ access to information. It took the place of the previous Freedom of Information Act of 2002. Under the RTI Act, any Indian person may seek information from a “public authority”, which is supposed to respond promptly or within thirty days. The information must be delivered within 48 hours if the situation involves a petitioner’s life or liberty. Every public entity is also required by the Act to computerise its records for wide distribution and to proactively disseminate certain categories of information so that citizens only need to make formal requests for information.

Although the Constitution of India does not list Right to Information as a Basic Right, it does defend the Constitution’s fundamental rights to Freedom of Expression and Speech (Article 19(1)(a)) and Right to Life and Personal Liberty (Article 21). The authorities covered by the RTI Act of 2005 are referred to as public authorities. In public authorities, the Public Information Officer (PIO) or the First Appellate Authority decides on applications and appeals in a quasi-judicial manner. This legislation was passed to strengthen the basic right of ‘freedom of expression’ guaranteed by the Indian constitution. RTI is an implied basic right since it is included in Article 19 of the Indian Constitution, which guarantees freedom of speech and expression. Some of the landmark cases on this Act are:-

  1.  R.K. Jain Vs. Union of India, 2013

             Mr. Jain had requested copies of all Note sheets and communication pages from a file pertaining to Miss Jyoti Balasundram, the Judicial Member of the Customs, Excise, and Service Tax Appellate Tribunal at the time. The Central Public Information Officer, however, declined the request on the grounds that the requested file contained the analysis of Miss Jyoti Bapasundram’s ACR, which constituted personal information. The official further stated that such material is excluded from disclosure under Section 8(i) (j) of the RTI Act. Subsequent appeals to the Director and Appellate Authority, as well as the Central Information Commission, were dismissed on the grounds that the information was personal and could only be provided if there was a legal reason. He then appealed to the High Court, and later went to the Supreme Court, dissatisfied by the judgement. The Supreme Court had ruled that information about charges, penalties, or sanctions imposed on an employee, as well as records containing such information, were necessarily a matter between the employee and the employer, whose disclosure has no connection to any public activity or public interest and would result in an unwarranted invasion of privacy. So, in this case, the point of information distribution that would exceed the privacy of the individual whose information was requested was overridden. As a result, the Supreme Court in this instance upheld its precedent, rejected the appeal, and affirmed the Division Bench’s conclusions.

  1. R. Rajagopal & Anr. v. State of Tamil Nadu

       The editor, assistant editor, printer, and publisher of the Tamil periodical Nakkheeran were the petitioners of this case. The State of Tamil Nadu, the Inspector General of Prisons, and the Superintendent of Prisons are among the respondents. The petitioners wanted the respondents to stop interfering with the publishing of Auto Shanker, a prisoner’s autobiography, in Nakkheeran. Shanker was found guilty of six murders and given the death penalty. Shanker authored his autobiography while in prison and stated his desire for it to be published in the petitioners’ magazine. Nakkheeran announced the publication of his memoirs before it was published. Shanker was therefore obliged to write to the magazine and request that the autobiography not be published. The petitioners then filed this action to prevent the respondents from infringing on the freedom of expression and the right to information. The respondents claimed the prisoner’s right to privacy, but it was agreed that material already held by the government would fall under the textbook definition of a public record. In such circumstances, the right to privacy can only be invoked in exceptional circumstances. This is similar to Section 8(1)(j) in that it does not safeguard information that is of public interest. It also indicates that some information should not be published since it has the potential to infringe a person’s privacy. The right to privacy of public officials, however, cannot be asserted in the course of their duties as such, according to the ruling.

  1. Central Board Of Secondary Education & Anr. vs. Aditya Bandopadhyay & Ors, 2011

The respondent took the Secondary School Examination, 2008, which was administered by CBSE. He was dissatisfied with his grades when he received his marksheet. He believed this after doing well in the exams, but his answer papers were not appropriately evaluated, resulting in poor grades, contradicting his beliefs. As a result, he requested that the answer books be inspected and re-evaluated. However, CBSE denied his request, arguing that the requested material is exempt under Section 8 (1) (e) of the RTI Act since it has a fiduciary relationship with the evaluators and must preserve secrecy in the evaluation technique. However, the student requested that CBSE allow him to produce the answer booklets and re-evaluate. The final judgement in the case was in favour of the student when it reached the Supreme Court. “In the context of all exams, provisions of the RTI Act continue to prevail above provisions of the examining organisations’ bye-laws,” the Justices wrote. As a result, unless and until the examining body can show that the answer books fall within the exempted category of material stated in clause (e) of Section 8(1) of the RTI Act, an examinee will be permitted to see them.

References:-

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right_to_Information_Act,_2005 
  2. https://www.legitquest.com/legal-guide/landmark-supreme-court-judgments-on-rti-act

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right_to_Information_Act,_2005

Aishwarya Says:

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