Mar 11, 2022

5 things you didn’t know about your Right to Information

The Central Information Commission has asked the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology to explain why it did not respond satisfactorily to a Right to Information (RTI) application related to the Aarogya Setu app. The Ministry has now said that it is taking steps to comply with the Commission’s orders.

  1. Which law gives citizens the right to information?

The Right to Information Act, 2005 sets out the right to information for citizens to access information under the control of public authorities. The Act’s aim is to promote transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority.

  1. What is a ‘public authority’?

Under Section 2(h) of the Act, a ‘public authority’ means any authority established by: 

(a) the Constitution; 

(b) law made by Parliament; 

(c) law made by State Legislature; 

(d) notification/order issued by the government. 

This includes any government body, or a body that is under government control. It also covers bodies that get most of their funding from the government (including non-government organisations).

  1. What type of information can you get under RTI?

Under the Act, ‘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, electronic data material and information relating to any private body which can be accessed by a public authority.

  1. What information is exempted under RTI?

A public authority can lawfully refuse your RTI request if you ask for:

  • Information that damages the security or economic interests of the Indian government
  • Information that damages India’s relation with a foreign country
  • Information that a Court has banned from being published
  • Information that results in a breach of privilege of the Parliament or State legislature
  • Confidential information that is received from a foreign government
  • Information that can endanger the life or physical safety of a person
  • Information which will obstruct a criminal investigation or arrest of offenders etc.
  1. Making an RTI request

If you want to obtain any information under this Act, you have to make an RTI application specifying the details of the information that you want to obtain. The application has to be made to the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer of the concerned public authority. It can also be made to the Central Assistant Public Information Officer or State Assistant Public Information Officer.

Your application can be made in writing or through electronic means, and it can be in English, Hindi or in the official language of the area in which the application is being made. It has to be accompanied by the specified fee.

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