November 15, 2005

Right to Information Act 2005

Last time I gave a competitive exam, and lost on an answer about the Right to Information in India... so here is some informaion on it for those like me!!! Waise Newspapers Help... ;-)

With the passage of the Right to Information Bill 2005 by the Rajya Sabha on May 12, 2005 India is now one of the 55 countries, which have legislated comprehensive laws that protect the citizens' right to information. Nine States namely, Delhi, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Jammu & Kashmir, Assam, Goa, and Madhya Pradesh already have laws on the right to information to show their commitment for building a dynamic and prosperous society by involving the people in governance and decision making process. The Supreme Court of India has, from time to time, interpreted Article 19, which upholds the right to freedom of speech and expression, to implicitly include the right to receive and impart information. There had been relentless efforts and mass mobilization in favour of a comprehensive Central Act providing access to information regimes.
The new legislation is a radical improvement on the relatively weak and ineffective statute it seeks to replace, the Freedom of Information Act, 2002. The new legislation unequivocally confers on all citizens the right to access information and, correspondingly, makes the dissemination of such information an obligation for all public authorities. It is an Act, which provides for setting out 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 Commissions and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
An outstanding feature of the Bill is the provision for Information Commissions - independent high level bodies at both the Central and State levels that are dedicated to encouraging the citizen's right to know and enforcing the provisions of the Act. By empowering these Commissions to act as appellate authorities and by vesting them with the powers of a civil court, these bodies have been given the teeth to discourage public authorities from refusing to part with information. The provisions of the Act require authorities to respond to queries in as little as 48 hours, if it is a matter of life and liberty. This will undoubtedly prompt accountability and transparency to climb up several notches, especially as the Act promises hefty fines and disciplinary action against erring officials.

Comments appreciated...

Pisceans Rule!!!

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