RTI stands for Right to Information. It is a fundamental right granted to the citizens of a country to access information held by the government or public authorities. The right to information promotes transparency, accountability, and participatory governance by empowering individuals to seek and receive information from public authorities.
The Right to Information Act is a legislation that provides a framework for citizens to exercise their right to information. It sets out the process and procedures through which individuals can request information from public authorities and obtain the desired information within a specified time frame. The Act also lays down provisions to ensure that public authorities proactively disclose certain categories of information to the public.
Here are some key features of the Right to Information:
Applicability: The right to information generally applies to public authorities, including government departments, ministries, public sector undertakings, and other entities that receive public funds.
Information Request: Under the RTI Act, individuals can submit a written request for information to the designated Public Information Officer (PIO) of the respective public authority. The request should clearly mention the particulars of the information sought.
Timeframe: The PIO is required to respond to the information request within a specified period, typically 30 days from the date of receipt of the request. In some cases, this period may be extended to 45 days, but the applicant should be duly informed about the extension.
Exemptions: While the right to information is broad, there are certain exemptions under which information may be withheld. These exemptions include matters related to national security, defense, privacy, commercial confidence, and certain types of confidential or sensitive information.
Appeal Mechanism: If the information request is denied or the applicant is dissatisfied with the response received, they can file an appeal with a higher authority called the Appellate Authority. Further appeals can be made to the Information Commission, which is an independent body responsible for adjudicating RTI matters.
Proactive Disclosure: Public authorities are also required to proactively disclose certain categories of information to the public through websites, publications, or other means. This includes information about their functions, budgets, policies, and more.
The Right to Information Act varies in its specifics across different countries, but the underlying principle remains the same—to ensure transparency and accountability in government processes and facilitate access to information for citizens.