Right to Information Act

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Executive Summary

The Indian Government, to promote transparency and accountability in the administration processes, brought into force the Right to Information Act on October 12th, 2005. As per the Parliament of India, the purpose of the RTI Act is ‘to provide for setting out the practical regime of right to information for citizens’[i]. The Act applies to all the states and union territories of India, except Jammu and Kashmir. The Act is applicable to all constitutional authorities – any institution or body constituted by an act of Parliament or state legislature – including the executive, judiciary and the legislature. This act empowered the citizens of India to seek information from public authorities. In particular, the RTI act
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Categories under section 8, if demanded to serve a larger public interest, can be disclosedi. A common citizen cannot be denied any information that cannot be denied to state / legislative assemblies or a parliamentary housev.

Information can be demanded from any central or state government departments, including panchayats, and from any other organization (including Non-governmental organisations) that is owned, controlled, established or substantially financed in any way by any section of the government, be it central or state[vi]. We should note that the act does not apply to the state of Jammu and Kashmir[vii].

Every Government department that comes under the purview of the RTI designated a Public Information Officer (PIO) and several Assistant PIOs within 100 days of the enactment of the law[viii]. Some documents, as per Section 4, were also required to be made available to the public suo moto by the Government authoritiesvii i.e. on their own, without anyone demanding to know.

The PIO can take up to 30 days (plus a few days for postal delays etc) to get back to the applicantviii. He can also take an additional 5 days if the application is sent to the wrong department and needs to be transferred to another dept and another 15 days if there are unavoidable delays (after notifying the applicant in writing).[ix]

If the applicant doesn’t receive any information from the PIO past the specified date
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