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Provisions of Right to Information Act, 2005 as per syllebus

[Syllabus for Departmental Examination for Inspector of Income Tax and Income Tax Officer is Sections 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 of the RTI Act. In this Article attempt is made to give a firsthand account of the provisions of the Act which are part of the said syllabus. In case of any doubt please refer to the RTI Act]
The Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI Act) was notified in the Gazette of India on 21st June, 2005. The RTI Act became fully operational from 12th October, 2005. It has repealed The Freedom of Information Act, 2002 [Refer section 31] It has 31 sections divided into six chapters and two schedules. [First two chapters are part of syllabus except sections 1 and 5]

The basic object of the RTI Act is to empower the citizens through access to information under the control of public authorities, promote transparency and accountability in the working of the Government and contain corruption.

Some important definitions

i) "Central Public Information Officer" means the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) and includes a Central Assistant Public Information Officer (CAPIO) [Refer section 2 (c)]

ii)"competent authority" means-(i) the Speaker in the case of the Lok Sabha or the Legislative Assembly of a State or a Union territory having such Assembly and the Chairman in the case of the Rajya Sabha or Legislative Council of a State; (ii) the Chief Justice of India in the case of the Supreme Court; (iii) the Chief Justice of the High Court in the case of a High Court; (iv) the President or the Governor in the case of other authorities established or constituted by or under the Constitution; (v) the administrator appointed under article 239 of the Constitution. [Refer section 2 (e)]

iii) "information" means any material in any form, including records, documents, memos, e-mails, opinions, advices, 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. [Refer section 2 (f)]

v)"record" includes— (a) any document, manuscript and file; (b) any microfilm, microfiche and facsimile copy of a document; (c) any reproduction of image or images embodied in such microfilm; and (d) any other material produced by a computer or any other device. [Refer section 2 (i)]

v) “right to information" means 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- i) inspection of work, documents, records; (ii) taking notes, extracts or certified copies of documents or records; (iii) taking certified samples of material; (iv)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 in any other device. [Refer section 2 (j)]

vi)“third party'' means a person other than the citizen making a request for information and includes a public authority. [Refer section 2 (n)]

Who has a right to information?

All citizens shall have the right to information. [Refer section 3]

What are the obligations of public authorities?
(1)Every public authority shall—
(a) maintain all its records duly catalogued and indexed in a manner and the form which facilitates the right to information and ensure most of the records are computerized
(b) publish (i) the particulars of its organization, functions and duties; (ii) the powers and duties of its officers and employees; iii) the procedure followed in the decision making process, including channels of supervision and (iv) the norms set by it for the discharge of its functions; (v) the rules, regulations, instructions, manuals and records, held/controlled/used by its employees for discharging its functions; (vi) a statement of the categories of documents held/controlled/used and host of other key information (xv) the particulars of facilities available to citizens for obtaining information, including the working hours of a library or reading room, if maintained for public use; (xvi) the names, designations and other particulars of the Public Information Officers; (xvii) such other information as may be prescribed; and update these publications every year;
(c) publish all relevant facts while formulating important policies or announcing the decisions which affect public;
(d) provide reasons for its administrative or quasi-judicial decisions to affected persons.
(2) It shall be a constant endeavour of every public authority to provide as much information suo motu to the public at regular intervals through various means of communications, including intemet, so that the public have minimum resort to the use of this Act to obtain information. All information shall be made known or communicated to the public through notice boards, newspapers, public announcements, media broadcasts, the intemet or any other means, including inspection of offices of any public authority. [Refer section 4]

Request for obtaining information
1. A person, who desires to obtain any information shall make a request in writing or through electronic means in English or Hindi or in the official language of the area in which the application is being made, accompanying prescribed fee to either (a) the CPIO or concerned public authority; or to (b) the CAPIO specifying the particulars of the information sought by him. Where such request cannot be made in writing, the CPIO shall render all reasonable assistance to the person making the request orally to reduce the same in writing..
2. It shall not be required to give either any reason for requesting the information or other personal details other than that are necessary for contacting him.
3. Where an application is made to a public authority but the information is held by another public authority; or the subject matter of the information is more closely connected with the functions of another public authority, then the public authority, to which such application is made shall transfer, as soon as practicable but in no case later than five days from the date of receipt of the application, the application or such part of the information to that other public authority and inform the applicant immediately about such transfer. [Refer section 6]

Disposal of request
(1)The CPIO on receipt of the RTI application shall within thirty days of the receipt of the request either provide the information on payment of prescribed fee or reject the request for any of the reasons specified in sections 8 and 9. Where the information sought for concerns the life or liberty of a person, the same shall be provided within forty-eight hours of the receipt of the request. Where the RTI application is received through the CAPIO or received on transfer than five days are added to thirty days.
(2) Where the CPIO fails to give the information within specified period the CPIO shall be deemed to have refused the request.
(3) The CPIO shall send intimation to the person where a decision is taken to provide the information on payment of any further fee giving (a) the details of further fees together with the calculations and requesting him to deposit that fee. The period between the despatch of the said intimation and payment of fees shall be excluded for the purpose of calculating the period of thirty days (b) informing that the applicant has a right to review the decision of further fees charged, the particulars of the appellate authority, time limit, process and any other forms.
(4) Where access to the record or a part thereof is required to be provided and the person is sensorily disabled the CPIO shall provide appropriate assistance to enable access to the information.
(5) Where access to information is to be provided in the printed or in any electronic format, the applicant shall pay prescribed fee which shall be reasonable and no fee shall be charged from the persons who are of below poverty line.  However where a public authority fails to comply with the specified time limits the information shall be provided free of charge.
(7) The CPIO shall take into consideration the representation made by a third party before taking any decision.
(8) Where a request has been rejected the CPIO shall communicate to the person making the request,—(a) the reasons for such rejection; (b) the period within which an appeal against such rejection may be preferred; and (c) the particulars of the appellate authority
(9) Information shall ordinarily be provided in the form in which it is sought unless it would disproportionately divert the resources of the public authority or would be detrimental to the safety or preservation of the record in question. [Refer section 7]

Exemption from disclosure of information
There shall be no obligation to give any citizen some sensitive categories of information. These are exempted from disclosure.
a) Information relating to sovereignty and integrity of India security, strategic, scientific or economic interests of the State, relation with foreign State;
b) Publication of information forbidden by any count of law or tribunal or the disclosure of which may constitute contempt of court;
c) information which would cause a breach of privilege of Parliament or the State Legislature;
d) information which would harm the competitive position of a third party including commercial confidence, trade secrets or intellectual property;
e) information available to a person in his fiduciary relationship
f) information received in confidence from foreign Government;
g) information which would endanger the life or physical safety of any person or identify the source of information or assistance given in confidence for law enforcement or security purposes;
h) information which would impede the process of investigation or apprehension or prosecution of offenders;
i) cabinet papers including records of deliberations of the Council of Ministers, Secretaries and other officers before the decision has been taken, and the matter is complete, or over;
j) 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.
However, where the competent authority is satisfied that the larger public interest warrants the disclosure of information categorized as d, e and j above the information may be disclosed.
Again, a public authority may allow access to information, if public interest in disclosure outweighs the harm to the protected interests even if it is restricted under the Official Secrets Act, 1923 (19 of 1923) or any of the above mentioned exemptions.
Except information categorized as a, c and i above information relating to any occurrence, event or matter which has taken place twenty years before the date of application shall be provided to any person making a request. [Refer section 8]

Grounds for rejection to access in certain cases

A CPIO may reject a request for information where it would involve an infringement of copyright subsisting in a person. [Refer section 9]

[Before we discuss the provision of section 10 let us understand what does the term ‘Severability’ means. Generally it means where any provision of an Agreement or law shall be held to be invalid, illegal, unenforceable or in conflict with the law of any jurisdiction, the validity, legality and enforceability of the remaining provisions of the said agreement or law shall not in any way be affected or impaired.]
(1) Where a request for access to information is rejected on the ground that it is exempt from disclosure, then, access may be provided to that part of the record which does not contain any information which is exempt from disclosure and which can reasonably be severed from any part that contains exempt information.
(2)Where access is granted to a part of the record the CPIO shall give a notice to the applicant, informing—
(a) that only part of the record requested, after severance of the record containing information which is exempt from disclosure, is being provided;
(b)reasons for the decision, including any findings on any material question of fact, referring to the material on which those findings were based;
(c) name and designation of the person giving the decision;
(d) details and amount of the fees which the applicant is required to deposit and
(e) his rights with respect to review of the decision regarding non-disclosure of part of the information, the amount of fee charged or the form of access provided, including the particulars of the senior officer or the Central Information Commission, time limit, process and any other form of access. [Refer section 10]

Third party information
(1) Where a CPIO intends to disclose any information or record, or part thereof on a request made which relates to a third party and has been treated as confidential by that third party, the CPIO shall, within five days from the receipt of the request, give a written notice to such third party of the request and of the fact that the CPIO intends to disclose the information or record, or part thereof, and invite the third party to make a submission in writing or orally, regarding whether the information should be disclosed, and such submission of the third party shall be kept in view while taking a decision about disclosure of information. Except in the case of trade or commercial secrets protected by law, disclosure outweighs in importance any possible harm or injury to the interests of such third party.
(2)Where a notice is served by the CPIO to a third party in respect of any information or record or part thereof, the third party shall, within ten days from the date of receipt of such notice, be given the opportunity to make representation against the proposed disclosure.
(3) The CPIO shall, within forty days after receipt of the request, if the third party has been given an opportunity to make representation make a decision as to whether or not to disclose the information or record or part thereof and give in writing the notice of his decision to the third party.
(4) Notice to include a statement that the third party is entitled to prefer an appeal against the decision. [Refer section 11]

manishsahay on September 04 2015 15:54:29

It has come to my notice that many CPIO has just pass the information or reject the application without speaking order and in simple manner. in my view order should be speaking and should b e passed under sec 7(1) of the Act irrespective of acceptance or rejection

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