SC Notice to centre on compliance of RTI clause on info-sharing

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SC Notice to centre on compliance of RTI clause on info-sharing

  • The SC sought an explanation on a PIL from the central government on why Section 4 of the Right to Information Act was not being implemented in earnest.
  • The PIL claimed that Section 4(2) casts an obligation on public servants to share all official information but the section is not being followed in spirit.

About RTI Act

  • It establishes the rules and procedures for citizens' access to information.
  • It replaced the previous Freedom of Information Act of 2002.
  • This legislation was passed to strengthen the fundamental right of 'freedom of speech' guaranteed by the Indian constitution.
  • RTI is an implied fundamental right because it is enshrined in Article 19 of the Indian Constitution, which guarantees freedom of speech and expression.
  • The Act also provides for appointment of Information Commissioners at Central and State level.
  • Appointment of Public Information Officer by the Public authorities who are responsible to provide information to a person seeking information under the RTI Act.
  • In normal course, information to an applicant is to be supplied within 30 days from the receipt of application by the public authority.
  • Private bodies are not within the Act’s ambit directly.

Key Sections of RTI Act

  • Section 4: Each public authority must suo motu disclose information.
  • Section 8(1): mentions exemptions from providing information.
  • Section 8(2): Under the Official Secrets Act of 1923, If a greater public interest is served, it allows for exemptions regarding revelation of information.

Challenges in implementation in RTI Act

  • Non-serious information seekers using it for their own personal gain rather than the public good.
  • In India, people especially women, SCs, STs etc are mostly unaware of their rights and responsibilities.
  • Huge Backlog and Delay in Disposal of Cases due to insufficient manpower capacity CIC, SIC office.
  • Dilution of law by vesting excessive powers with the central government, through RTI Act (Amendment) Act, 2019.
  • Exemptions provided under restrictive legislations, such as the Official Secrets Act, 1923.

Way Forward

  • Increasing Public Awarenes through Radio, Television and Print Media in various regional languages across the length and breadth of country.
  • Balancing the issue of privacy with RTI as this right is enshrined within the Article 21 of the Constitution.
  • Preventing the misuse of RTI through provision of penalty if demanding information which is not in public interest.
  • Compliance with all the sections of RTI Act in letter and spirit.