The importance of the Act+
Decisions of the Government and public bodies affect the lives of citizens. Therefore, citizens need to be a part of the decision-making process which has an impact on them.
• Citizens have a right to know of Government decisions which are relevant to them.
• The Government, public bodies, and even private entities which impact public life in turn, are answerable to the citizens.
• The Act facilitates citizens to exercise their Fundamental Right to Information guaranteed by the Constitution.
• The Act sets out the procedure and mechanisms to follow in obtaining information from Public Authorities.
Some Basic Principles of the Act+
The Principle of Maximum Disclosure requires the Public Authorities(PA’s) to publish as much information as possible.
• Thus official information in their possession should be available to the public.
• The burden is on the Public Authorities to justify the denial of information.
• The Principle of Proactive Disclosure requires publicizing information of Public Authorities as a matter of course, so that citizens do not have to pay a fee to access such information. Information then becomes more affordable.
• The Principle of Obligation to Publish. This means that a Public Authority should publish and disseminate information important to the public on its own accord without merely responding to requests for information.
• The Principle of Disclosure takes Precedence. This guarantees that all laws inconsistent with the principle of maximum disclosure should yield to the RTI Act. The Act will take precedence over any other enacted law in that regard.
• Accessible information includes; records, documents, memos, emails, opinions, advices, press releases, circulars, orders, log books, contracts, reports, papers, samples, models, correspondence, memorandum, draft legislation, book, plan, map, drawing, diagram, pictorial or graphic work, photograph, film, microfilm, sound recording, video tapes, machine readable record, computer records and other documentary material, in whichever physical form it is.
• This could also relate to issues concerning projects that directly affect the people such as health, education, environment etc.
• But, certain types of information could be denied under certain circumstances, which are set out in detail in chapter 6 of this Manual.
• It is important to note that even where information can be denied under this law, there is an overriding public interest factor that can open the door to the availability of such information.
Certain provisions of the RTI Act came into operation on the date of the Speaker’s certification. These included the establishment of the Right to Information Commission and the appointment of Information Officers. All remaining provisions will come into operation after the Minister in charge of the subject gazettes the same within a period of 6-12 months of the Act coming into operation.