India, a state which is known as the largest democracy on earth and that has struggled a rule of foreigners for over two centuries and where around 12.5% people on the midnight of independence were counted as literate; required a legislation that can provide access to information of public records. The right to know or access information contains a deep era of struggle and political intent that today the largest democratic state has a legislation in the name of Right to Information Act, 2005.
Also Learn: Drafting of an Application under the Right to Information Act, 2005
The Right to Information Act, 2005 was the result of the judicial activism, social activism and the demand of the hour. Various Non-Governmental Organizations and several social spirited activists had continuously struggled to ensure the passing of a legislation that provides an access to information under the control of public authorities. For a transparent and meaningful democracy, the citizens of the State are required to be enlightened, empowered and informed. The right to access the information is an instrument of law to achieve the minimum goals of democracy.
The Right to Information Act, 2005 was passed by the Parliament of India in the Fifty-Sixth year of Republic of India in order to ensure effective access to information, that resulted after the repeal of the Freedom of Information Act, 2002. The National Advisory Council suggested certain essential amendments in the Freedom of Information Act, 2002 to ensure more transparency and smoother access to Information.
The amendments proposed by the National Advisory Council included establishment of the appellate body to investigate and review the decisions of the Public Information Officers and to impose penalty over them in case of failure to provide information as per the law. The Advisory Council also intended to provide maximum access of information to the citizens and minimum exemptions to the Public Authorities.
To strengthen the process the Right to Information Movement in India came into existence in 1990s by resolving a major contradiction between the Colonial Acts, which prevents access to information and the post-independent Indian Constitution, which recognize the seeking information as a fundamental right to promote transparent, accountable, responsible, participatory and decentralized democracy
This law was passed by Parliament on 15 June, 2005 in the fifty sixth year of Republic of India and came fully into force on 12 October 2005. Every day, over 4800 RTI applications are filed. In the first ten years of the commencement of the act over 17,500,000 applications had been filed.
Right To Information is a legal right for every citizen of India under the 22nd Act of 2005. The authorities under RTI Act 2005 are called quasi-judicial authorities. This act was enacted in order to consolidate the fundamental right in the Constitution of India. Since right to know is implicit in the Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression under Article 19 of Indian Constitution, it is an implied fundamental right but indeed in case the authority fails to provide the information to the applicant then the applicant cannot move to the Supreme Court under Article 32 of the Constitution of India and thereby has to exercise the alternative remedies prior to it.
The Right to Information Act strengthens the citizen by providing access to the information and thereby impliedly provides a citizen to conduct social audit against the administrative and political actions or inactions but indeed the Act can be supplemented if the Whistle Blowers Act, 2011 is passed by the Parliament of India.
Some Importance and Salient Features:
Extent: The Act applies to whole of India.
Information Commission: The Act provides provision for the establishment of CIC and SIC.
Transparency: The Act provides and promotes transparency and accountability in the working of public authorities.
Anti-Corruption: The right to know allows less scope of corruption.
Social-Auditing: The citizens can conduct social audits through the application of this law.
Information: The act provides limitation and exhaustiveness to the information which is required to be provided by the Public Authority.
Obligation: The Public Authority to whom the information is being seek is obligated to provide the information as per the Act.
Human Rights: The RTI Act also inscribes the essence of Human Rights under the purview of Information.