Right to Information Act is a landmark legislation. It has a short title "Right to Information Act, 2005". The long title is as follows:
An Act to provide for setting up the practical regime of right to information for citizens to secure access to information under the control of public authorities, in order to promote transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority, the Constitution of a Central Information Commission and State Information Commission and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
It has six chapters, thirty one sections and two schedules. The preview of the main sections are as follows:
Section 2- It contains all the definitions used in the Act. "Information", "Right to Information", "Public Authority", "Competent Authority", "Appropriate Government" etc are some of the important definitions among others.
Section 3-All citizens are having right to information.
Section 4-This section lays down certain obligations of Public Authorities. It contains maintenance of records and publishing of certain matters about the organisation including its duties, functions, powers, rules and regulations, other statements etc.
Section 5- This section mandates the designation of information officers for the provisions of Right to Information Act in every administrative offices of the Public Authority.
Section 6- This important section is the heart of the Act. It deals with the process of requesting for information. A person desiring to obtain information shall make his application to the respective information officers of the Public Authority in writing, typewritten or electronic means. The application can be given in English, Hindi or in the official language of the area in which the application is made.
Section 7- This section deals with disposing of applications under Section 6. The time limit for providing information is thirty days. The PIO[Public Information Officer] may either provide the information on payment of prescribed fees or reject the application for reasons. But failure to communicate information within the prescribed period will be deemed to be denial of the request. The cost, fee etc if any for providing information should be intimated to the applicant by the PIO. But the information has to be given free of charge if the time
limit for providing the same is over.
Section 8- This provision deals with exempted informations. The informations which will affect the security and interest of state are exempted. Any information which is barred by law or court is exempted. Like this, ten exemptions are provided in this Section.
Section 9- It speaks about rejecting application for information which if given, will involve infringement of copyright subsisting in a person other than the state.
Section 10- If any part of the information is of such a type that it cannot be disclosed, the other part can be disclosed if both can be severed. In this case the matter is to be communicated to the applicant including reasons and findings.
Section 11- This section deals with procedure to be adopted by PIO in case of receipt of applications seeking informations furnished by third parties. The time limit for giving notice to third party is within five days from the date of receipt of information.
Section 12, 13 and 14 deals with the constitution of Central Information Commissions, their terms of office and allied matters.
Section 15,16 and 17 deals with State Information Commissions.
Sections 18 deals with the powers of Information Commissions. The power to receive complaints, summon witness and inquire into the matter is detailed.
Section 19- This section deals with the provision for appeal. The time period for the first appeal is thirty days whereas it is ninety days in case of second appeal. It details other aspects of appeal.
Section 20- Penalties- This section deals with imposition of penalty on PIO's by Information Commissioners for various reasons. The maximum penalty is twenty five thousand rupees.
Section 22- The Act is having overriding effect on anything inconsistent contained in Official Secrets Act, 1923.
Section 23- It bars the jurisdiction of courts regarding any orders under the Act.
Section 24- Certain organisations are exempted from the operations of the Act. Those exempted organisations are enlisted in Second schedule of the Act. But there are exceptions also which is provided
in this section.
Section 27- This section gives powers to the appropriate government to make rules for carrying out the provisions of the Act.
Section 28 gives powers to competent authority to carry out the provisions of the Act.