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Rajasthan Information Commission penalises five officials for negligence

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Rajasthan Information Commission penalises five officials for negligence:


Context:

The Rajasthan State Information Commission has adopted a tough stance against government officials showing negligence in providing information under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

  • The Commission has imposed fines on five officials of different departments (Including secretary, Village Development Officer and village secretaries) and passed adverse remarks about their conduct.

What’s the issue?

The officials have been fined for not providing information to applicants. Besides, the officials had not responded to the Commission’s notices.

About the RTI Act, 2005:

It sets out the rules and procedures regarding citizens’ right to information.

It replaced the former Freedom of Information Act, 2002.

  • This act was enacted in order to consolidate the fundamental right in the Indian constitution ‘freedom of speech’. Since RTI is implicit in the Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression under Article 19 of the Indian Constitution, it is an implied fundamental right.

Key Provisions:

  • Section 4 of the RTI Act requires suo motu disclosure of information by each public authority.
  • Section 8 (1) mentions exemptions against furnishing information under RTI Act.
  • Section 8 (2) provides for disclosure of information exempted under Official Secrets Act, 1923 if larger public interest is served.

Information Commissioners and PIOs:

  • The Act also provides for appointment of Information Commissioners at Central and State level.
  • Public authorities have designated some of its officers as Public Information Officer. They are responsible to give information to a person who seeks information under the RTI Act.

Time period:

In normal course, information to an applicant is to be supplied within 30 days from the receipt of application by the public authority.

  • If information sought concerns the life or liberty of a person, it shall be supplied within 48 hours.
  • In case the application is sent through the Assistant Public Information Officer or it is sent to a wrong public authority, five days shall be added to the period of thirty days or 48 hours, as the case may be.

Applicability of RTI to:

Private bodies:

Private bodies are not within the Act’s ambit directly.

  • In a decision of Sarbjit roy vs Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission, the Central Information Commission also reaffirmed that privatised public utility companies fall within the purview of RTI.

Political parties:

The Central Information Commission (CIC) had held that the political parties are public authorities and are answerable to citizens under the RTI Act.

But in August 2013 the government introduced a Right To Information (Amendment) Bill which would remove political parties from the scope of the law.

  • Currently no parties are under the RTI Act and a case has been filed for bringing all political parties under it.

Chief Justice of India:

Supreme Court of India on 13 November 2019, upheld the decision of Delhi High Court bringing the office of Chief Justice of India under the purview of Right to Information (RTI) Act.

key_points

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Definition of Public Authority under the act.
  2. Exceptions under the act.
  3. About Chief Information Commissioner.
  4. State Information Commissioners.
  5. Public Information Officers.
  6. Latest amendments.

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of the RTI Act, 2005.

Sources: the Hindu.