What is RTI Act? By replacing Freedom of information Act, 2002, Right to Information (RTI) was enacted on 5-June-2005 by Parliament of India and came fully into force on 12 October 2005.RTI allows any citizen of India to access information from a "public authority" and public authority is required to reply within thirty days. According to the RTI Act, 2005, Public Authorities have to disclose information about their organization, functions, and structure, powers of duties and financial information. Benefits of RTI Act:
Bodies/ Officers responsible for the governance of the Right to information in India There are two major bodies governed the Right to information in India.
- RTI Act promotes transparency and accountability in the working of Public Authorities.
- RTI act helps in choosing more legitimate electoral candidates.
- The misuse of power can be reduced to an extent through RBI.
- RTI act made citizens more aware and improve their decision-making.
Both the commissions (State and Central Information Commissions) are independent bodies.
- Central Information Commissions works under the President of India.
- State Information Commissions are directly under the corresponding State Governor.
What information can be accessed under the RTI Act Information can be accessed almost about everything from village ration shop, the Reserve Bank of India, the Finance Ministry, on demonetization, nonperforming assets, the Rafale fighter aircraft deal, electoral bonds, unemployment figures, the appointment of the Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC), Election Commissioners, and the appointment of the Information Commissioners themselves. But there is some exception to RTI act as follows: where the disclosure of information affect the security, sovereignty, and integrity of India or constitute contempt of court, cause a breach of privilege of Parliament or the State Legislature, affect commercial confidence, endanger the life or physical safety of any person, etc. Bodies (about which information can be accessed) covered under RTI act. Except for Jammu and Kashmir, the act covers the whole of India. It covers all the constitutional authorities, any institution established by an act of Parliament or a state legislature, authorities established by government notification for example authorities which are owned, controlled or substantially financed by government or non-Government organizations. Changes proposed in the RTI Act: The Right to Information Act (Amendment) Bill 2019 which was introduced in Parliament on 19 July 2019 to amend Right to Information (RTI) 2005. Amendments have been proposed since 2006, but people have managed to have them withdrawn because of their campaigns. What does the Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2019 propose?
- The Central Information Commission has been constituted under the Right to Information Act, 2005.
- Chief Information Commission includes 1 Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) and Information Commissioners (not more than 10). The commissioners are appointed by the President of India.
Issues with the amendments/changes:
- It proposes to amend Sections13, 16, and 27 of the RTI Act.
- The Bill proposes to do away with the current architecture. In the current architecture, the status of the Central Information Commissioners (CICs) was considered equal to that of the Election Commissioners and the State Information Commissioners with the Chief Secretary in the States.
- The Bill proposes to replace the fixed five-year tenure of the Information Commissioners and now, the Central government will decide tenure, salary, allowances and other terms of service of Information Commissioners.
- When power is centralized and the freedom of expression will definitely be
- The amendments will affect the independence and authority of the
- After Changes, the commission will function as a department of the Central government.
- These amendments will allow the Central government to control the terms and conditions of appointment of commissioners in the States.
- Amendments are being pushed through without any citizen consultation and without even proper parliamentary scrutiny.
- These amendments basically weaken RTI architecture and undermine the independence of Information Commissions and dilute the framework for transparency in India.
- The RTI movement should be strengthened for transparency and accountability in India. By amending a law one cannot stop a movement.
- Citizens should be consulted while implementing the amendment and proper parliamentary scrutiny is also important.