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Trending: Call for Papers Volume 3 | Issue 2: International Journal of Advanced Legal Research [ISSN: 2582-7340]

Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI): Amendment 2019

 

Introduction to Right to Information Act, 2005

Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI) is considered highly important legislation of independent India as it introduced the concept of ‘Good Governance’. Good governance is when a country’s public institution works and brings in improvements as per the needs of the society.  Not only India but various other countries of the world consider the concept of ‘Good Governance’ as an important aspect. 

Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI) is legislation that applies only to public authorities. According to the Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI) pubic authorities are those bodies that are enacted by the Parliament or the State Legislature under the powers given by the Constitution of India. Example- Non-Governmental Organisations. Every citizen has the right to approach these public authorities and demand information under the Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI). 

Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI) also talks about Public Information Officer (PIO). These officers have the authority and power to provide individuals with information on requisition. 

RTI has two bodies namely, Central Information Commission and State Level Commission. 

Recent news relating to RTI Act

  • Last year, the most important news of the Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI) was that whether the PM Cares fund is a public authority or not. 

  • If yes, then can people learn about all the transactions relating to it. 

  • As per the recordings, the PM Cares fund almost collected a sum of Rs. 3,000 crore but this information was not properly disclosed on its official website. 

  • Then it was clearly stated that the PM Cares fund is not a public authority under Section 2(h) of the Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI). 

  • Later, a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was also filed in this matter. 

  • It was held that this fund is not financed by the government but by private individuals such as trustees. 

A common problem in filing RTI

  • The major problem in filing RTI is that the institution is a public authority or not. 

  • So, here it is, that in certain circumstances and conditions RTI can be filed against a private body. 

  • For instance, if an RTI has to be filed for obtaining information from a private school, then the RTI application can be given to the authority under which that school is registered and information can be obtained. 

Amendment 2019

  • Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI) was amended in 2019 and the centre was given more powers that the centre can set the salaries and service conditions of information commissioners of state and central level. 

  • Moreover, Section 13 and Section 16 was also amended. These amendments were highly opposed by the opposition parties. 

  • Then Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI), removed the term of service of all the information officers and left it at the discretion of the central government. 

  • RTI can be filed on its web portal where the request can be submitted to ministries or departments of the government of India along with all the details and fees. 

  • The fee to file RTI is not charged from the people belonging to Below Poverty Line (BPL).

  •  As soon as the RTI application is filed a registration number will be received by the person who files for it. 

Shocking fact: After the Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI) came into existence nearly 65 RTI activists were killed, and 400 other activists were harassed. 

Case Law: CPIO vs. Subhash Chandra Agarwal

  • In this case, Subhash Chandra Agarwal filed an RTI application to CPIO demanding all the details relating to the Chief Justice of India(CJI)

  • He filed another RTI application requesting information regarding the appointment of the three Supreme Court judges. The judges on whose appointment the information was requested was for Justice A.K. Ganguly, Justice H.L. Dutta, and Justice R.M. Lodha. 

  • Moreover, a third RTI application was also filed requesting information relating to the assets of the Chief Justice of India and the States. 

  • The issue was that whether or not the office of the Chief Justice of India (CJI) falls within the ambit or domain of public authority?

  • Held, CPIO has the authority to disclose the information regarding the personal assets and other detail of judges as the office of CJI falls within the ambit of the public authority. 

The procedure of filing an RTI

  • The first step is to open the RTI online web portal

  • There a request has to be submitted to Ministries or Department of Government of India. 

  • Thereafter, all the required details appearing on the page has to be given. 

  • Along with filling in the details, a fee of filing an RTI also has to be paid. 

  • An appeal can also be filed on the web portal of RTI.

  • The fee to file RTI is not charged from the people belonging to Below Poverty Line (BPL). 

  • After the RTI application is duly filed, the person filing such RTI shall receive a registration number. 

Conclusion 

Hence, the Right to Information Act 2005 mandates timely response to citizen requests for government information. The basic object of the Right to Information Act is to empower the citizens, promote transparency and accountability in the working of the Government.  RTI Act applies to public authorities which goes without saying but it indirectly also covers the private institutions. 

References


The article is written by Sneha Mahawar, a  law student at Ramaiah Institute of Legal Studies. The article discusses the 2019 amendment of the Right to Information Act, 2005 along with other important highlights.

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