THE RIGHT TO INFORMATION ACT, 2005 by Anju Esther Balakrishnan at LEXCLIQ.

 

An act of the parliament of India sets out the rules and procedures regarding citizen’s rights to information. Assistant Public Information Officer/ Public Information Officer. – liable to respond within a period of 30 days. Applicants can complain directly to State Information Commissions (SISs) or Central Information Commission (CICs) if no reply from either Public Information Officers (PIOs) or Appellate Authorities (AAs) has been received. The first appeal should be filed before the designated First Appellate Authority (FAA), who is an officer higher in rank than PIO. Details of First Appellate Authority shall be included in PIOs decision letter itself. Jurisdiction – India. (covers entire Central/ State Government/ Public Sector, including Government-funded organizations/ institutions, schools, hospitals, NGOs.) Any Indian citizen can seek information under the Act.

Features 

  • Section- 2 (j): the right to information accessible under this Act which is held by or under the control of any public authority and includes the right to inspection of work, documents, records, taking notes, extracts, or certified copies of documents or records.
  • Taking certified samples of material.
  • Obtaining information in the form of diskettes, floppies, tapes, video cassettes, or in any other electronic mode or through printouts where such information is stored in a computer or any other device.

If the CPIO or SPIO wants to give any information related to a third party that is considered to be confidential, to the applicant, then the third party must be informed in writing by the concerned authority within 5 days of receiving the application. The concerned authority needs to inform the third party about the reason and circumstances in which the information or the record has to be given to the applicant in writing or orally and it is necessary to take the advice of the third party before making any decision in this regards.

The CPIO or the SPIO must inform the third party through a notice about the disclosure of any information or record. In this regard, the third party gets an opportunity to express his objection, if any, regarding the disclosure within 10 days. The information which is not mandatory to be provided by the public authority:

  1. Information, disclosure of which would affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security, strategic, scientific, or economic interests of the State, relation with foreign States or lead to incitement of an offense.
  2. The information which has been expressly forbidden to be published by any court of law or tribunal or the disclosure of which may constitute contempt of court.
  3.  Information, the disclosure of which would cause a breach of privilege of Parliament or the State Legislature.
  4. Information including commercial confidence, trade secrets, or intellectual property, the disclosure of which would harm the competitive position of a third party, unless the competent authority is satisfied that larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information.
  5.  Information received in confidence from a foreign government.
  6. Information, the disclosure of which would endanger the life or physical safety of any person.
  7.  Information that would impede the process of investigation or apprehension or prosecution of offenders.
  8.  Cabinet papers including records of deliberations of the Council of Ministers, Secretaries, and other officers. Such information can be made public once the cabinet decides on the matter.
  9. The information which relates to personal information, the disclosure of which has no relationship to any public activity or interest, or which would cause unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the individual unless the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer or the appellate authority is satisfied that the larger public interest justifies the disclosure of such information. The CPIO or SPIO may not give the information about such matters which are barred from disclosure, but he can give the information about some matters which are debarred from disclosure but are along with the barred matters. In doing so, the Information Officer should inform the applicant that the information is provided by selecting the parts which are not prohibited from disclosure from the prohibited items.

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