Competitive Exams: Current Affairs 2011: Right to Information Act

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Right to Information Act

India՚s Right to Information Act, 2005 therefore, asserts that democracy requires an informed citizenry and transparency of information, which are vital to its functioning and also to contain corruption and to hold governments and their instrumentalities accountable to the governed.

We know that infrastructure in India is woefully inadequate despite privatisation; employment growth of 2.1 per cent in 1983 had in fact declined to 1.84 per cent in 2004; in the health sector there are regional, socio-economic, caste and gender-based disparities; Centre-state fiscal relations are a matter of concern; an institutional framework for public-private partnership is still to be developed; access to justice is not universal despite the rise of panchayati raj.

In this context, it is important to dwell on the definition of information in the Act.

Information means any material in any form including records, documents, memos, emails, opinions, advice, press releases, circulars, orders, logbooks, contracts, reports, papers, samples, models, data material held in any electronic form and information relating to any private body which can be accessed by a public authority under any other law for the time being in force. Key concepts under the right to information, then, include the following:

Transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority.

The right of any citizen of India to request access to information and the corresponding duty of the government to meet the request, except the exempted information.

The duty of the government to proactively make available key information to all.

Every public authority shall maintain all its records duly catalogued and indexed in a manner and form which facilitates the right to information under this Act and ensure that all records that are appropriate to be computerised are, within a reasonable time and subject to availability of resources, computerised and connected through a network all over the country on different systems so that access to such records is facilitated.

Public authority covers any authority or body or institution of self-government established or constituted

  • by or under the Constitution
  • by any other law made by Parliament
  • by any other law made by state legislature
  • by notification issued or order made by the appropriate government, and includes any body owned, controlled or substantially financed; non-government organisation substantially financed, directly or indirectly by funds provided by the appropriate government.

Courtesy: The Hindu and Times of India