RIGHT TO INFORMATION

“The real Swaraj will come not by the acquisition of authority by a couple of , but by the acquisition of capacity by all to resist authority when abused”. When Mahatma Gandhi said this line, he didn’t even think that one day India will make a law to empower people for something as a basis for seeking information about the development of the country. The Indian government, to promote accountability in the administration process passed an RTI amendment bill on July 25 strikes at the heart of the law by undermining the institution of information commissions but it came up into force on October 12th, 2005. It was then introduced by the government and been pushed through both the houses of parliament in face of strong resistance and power from citizens and many opposition parties. As per the Parliament of India, the main criteria of this Act is ‘to provide for setting out the practical regime of right to information for citizens’. The Act applies to all the states and union territories of India and all constitutional authorities – any institution or body constituted by an act of Parliament or state legislature – including the three organs of government that is executive, judiciary and the legislature except Jammu and Kashmir. This act empowered the citizens of India to hunt information from public authorities. In particular, the RTI act was expected to possess an enormous impact on the standard of the lifetime of the poor and other backward sections of the community. As such this act recognized the world over as one of the most important laws, has been mutilated. This act provides a regime for ensuring people about right to information as it had been upheld by the supreme court of India as a fundamental right which flows way from the article 19 and 21 of the constitution of India. According to information commissioner, this article also tells us to decide appeals and complaints of the person who doesn’t get prior information about the product which they are acquiring from producers. RTI is a fundamental right which had been guaranteed under part 3 article 19(1)(a) of the Indian constitution. Further it is a Constitutional Right, as all Fundamental Right are constitutional right but it is not same. Example: Article 300A – Right to Property is a Constitutional Right but not Fundamental Right. It was once a FR under Article 19(1)(f) which was omitted by 44th Constitutional Amendment Act 1978. Going further it is a Legal Right (LR) as all Constitutional Right are Legal Right but not vice versa. Example: Right to Vote is a Legal Right under Section 62(1) of Representation of People Act 1951 but not Constitutional Right. So RTI is a Fundamental Right, a Constitutional Right and a Legal Right. RTI act 2005 is merely a statutorily sanctioned procedure to exercise Fundamental right to Information under Article 19(1)(a). The authorities under RTI Act 2005 are called quasi-judicial authorities. For more than two decades, the Supreme Court of India has recognized the right to information as a constitutionally protected fundamental right, established under the Article 19 (right to freedom of speech and expression) and Article 21 (right to life) of the Constitution. The court has recognized the proper to access information from government departments is prime to democracy. Therefore, Justice K. K. Mathew of Supreme Court of India said that “In a government, where all the agents of the public must be responsible for their conduct, there can be but few secrets. The people have a right to understand every public act, everything that’s wiped out a public way, by their public functionaries. The responsibility of officials to elucidate or to justify their acts is that the chief safeguard against oppression and corruption”. This act itself is a self- restrictive in nature as well. The act doesn’t make right to information as an absolute right but it imposes some restriction on it. As according to section 8(1) of the act deals with exemption of disclosure of information. There are laws which are contrary to the proper to understand in India and wish to be amended so as to preserve the proper to understand . Sections 123, 124, and 162 of The Indian Evidence Act provide to carry the disclosure of documents. Section 123 provides that any head of a department may refuse to supply information on affairs of state and only swearing that it’s a state secret will entitle not to disclose the information. In a similar manner section, 124 states that no public officer shall be compelled to disclose communications made to him in official confidence. Section 162 provides court to not inspect a document concerning matters of state. The Official Secrets Act as evident from its name, under section 5, provides that any government official can mark a document as confidential so on prevent its publication. This act has empowered the citizens and gave them a weapon to keep the public officers a check. So from this we conclude that Until the introduction of the Right to Information Act, information was the property of those people who are in the ruling side and secrecy of it was maintained. With the commencement of the right to information Act, now the people have got right to take, see, check and inspect any information, which they want to acquire from the person. But at the same time it require a lot of awareness among the people in order to utilize the act to combat the corruption and get the services of the State, otherwise this Right to Information Act 2005 also will become a bit like the other act.

 

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Author: KRISH BHATIA,
CHANDIGARH UNIVERSITY 1 YEAR BALLB

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