Right to Information Act
|The Right to Information Act, 2005|
|An Act to provide 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.|
|Citation||Act No. 22 of 2005|
|Territorial extent||Whole of India except the State of Jammu and Kashmir|
|Enacted by||Parliament of India|
|Date assented to||15-06-2005|
The Right to Information Act 2005 (RTI) is an Act of the Parliament of India "to provide for setting out the practical regime of right to information for citizens." The Act applies to all States and Union Territories of India except the State of Jammu and Kashmir. Jammu and Kashmir has its own act called Jammu & Kashmir Right to Information Act, 2009. Under the provisions of the Act, any citizen may request information from a "public authority" (a body of Government or "instrumentality of State") which is required to reply expeditiously or within thirty days. The Act also requires every public authority to computerize their records for wide dissemination and to pro-actively publish certain categories of information so that the citizens need minimum recourse to request for information formally. This law was passed by Parliament on 15 June 2005 and came fully into force on 12 October 2005. Information disclosure in India was hitherto restricted by the Official Secrets Act 1923 and various other special laws, which the new RTI Act now relaxes.
The Act covers the whole of India include Jammu and Kashmir, where J&K Right to Information Act is in force. It is applicable to all constitutional authorities, including the executive, legislature and judiciary; any institution or body established or constituted by an act of Parliament or a state legislature. It is also defined in the Act that bodies or authorities established or constituted by order or notification of appropriate government including bodies "owned, controlled or substantially financed" by government, or non-Government organizations "substantially financed, directly or indirectly by funds" provided by the government are also covered in it.
Private bodies 
Private bodies are not within the Act's ambit directly. In a landmark decision of 30-Nov-2006 ('Sarbajit Roy versus DERC') the Central Information Commission also reaffirmed that privatized public utility companies continue to be within the RTI Act- their privatization not withstanding.
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The Act empowers applicant citizens to:
- Obtain copies of permissible governmental documents.
- Inspect permissible governmental documents.
- Inspect permissible Governmental works and obtain samples.
Power to make rules 
- The Central Government, State Governments and the Competent Authorities as defined in S.2(e) are vested with powers to make rules to carry out the provisions of the Right to Information Act, 2005 (S.27 & S.28)
Partial disclosure 
The Act allows those part(s) of the record which are not exempt from disclosure and which can reasonably be severed from parts containing exempt information to be provided.
Central Intelligence and Security agencies specified in the Second Schedule like IB, Directorate General of Income Tax Investigation, RAW, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Central Economic Intelligence Bureau, Directorate of Enforcement, Narcotics Control Bureau, Aviation Research Centre, Special Frontier Force, BSF, CRPF, ITBP, CISF, NSG, Assam Rifles, Special Service Bureau, Special Branch (CID), Andaman and Nicobar, The Crime Branch-CID-CB, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Special Branch, Lakshadweep Police. Agencies specified by the State Governments through a Notification will also be excluded. The exclusion, however, is not absolute and these organizations have an obligation to provide information pertaining to allegations of corruption and human rights violations. Further, information relating to allegations of human rights violation could be given but only with the approval of the Central or State Information Commission.
Information Exclusions 
The following is exempt from disclosure [S.8)]
- Information, disclosure of which would prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security, "strategic, scientific or economic" interests of the State, relation with foreign State or lead to incitement of an offense;
- Information which has been expressly forbidden to be published by any court of law or tribunal or the disclosure of which may constitute contempt of court;
- Information, the disclosure of which would cause a breach of privilege of Parliament or the State Legislature;
- Information including commercial confidence, trade secrets or intellectual property, the disclosure of which would harm the competitive position of a third party, unless the competent authority is satisfied that larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information;
- Information available to a person in his fiduciary relationship, unless the competent authority is satisfied that the larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information;
- Information received in confidence from foreign Government;
- Information, the disclosure of which would endanger the life or physical safety of any person or identify the source of information or assistance given in confidence for law enforcement or security purposes;
- Information which would impede the process of investigation or apprehension or prosecution of offenders;
- Cabinet papers including records of deliberations of the Council of Ministers, Secretaries and other officers;
- Information which relates to personal information the disclosure of which has no relationship to any public activity or interest, or which would cause unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the individual (but it is also provided that the information which cannot be denied to the Parliament or a State Legislature shall not be denied by this exemption);
- Notwithstanding any of the exemptions listed above, a public authority may allow access to information, if public interest in disclosure outweighs the harm to the protected interests. (NB: This provision is qualified by the proviso to sub-section 11(1) of the Act which exempts disclosure of "trade or commercial secrets protected by law" under this clause when read along with 8(1)(d))
Role of the government 
Section 26 of the Act enjoins the central government, as also the state governments of the Union of India (excluding J&K), to initiate necessary steps to:
- Develop educational programs for the public especially disadvantaged communities on RTI.
- Encourage Public Authorities to participate in the development and organization of such programs.
- Promote timely dissemination of accurate information to the public.
- Train officers and develop training materials.
- Compile and disseminate a User Guide for the public in the respective official language.
- Publish names, designation postal addresses and contact details of PIOs and other information such as notices regarding fees to be paid, remedies available in law if request is rejected etc.
In the first year of National RTI, 42,876 (not yet official) applications for information were filed to Central (i.e. Federal) public authorities. Of these 878 were disputed at the final appellate stage - the Central Information Commission at New Delhi. A few of these decisions have thereafter been mired in further legal controversy in the various High Courts of India. The first stay order against a final appellate decision of the Central Information Commission was granted on 3.May.2006 by the High Court of Delhi in WP(C)6833-35/2006 cited as "NDPL & Ors. versus Central Information Commission & Ors". The Government of India's purported intention in 2006 to amend the RTI Act was postponed after public disquiet, but has been revived again in 2009 by the DoPT.
- The effective date is often incorrectly referred to as 13 October 2005. The Act came into force on the midnight between the 12th and 13th.
- Government of India links
- CIC - The Central Information Commission is empowered to decide complaints and appeals arising from use of the Right to Information Act, 2005.
- CIC Online - New website of the Central Information Commission.
- DoPT - The Department of Personnel and Training, Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances, and Pensions, is charged with being the nodal agency for the Right to Information Act, 2005. It has the powers to make rules regarding appeals, fees, etc.
- Right to Information Act Portal
- RTI INDIA Yahoo RTI e-group
- RTI INDIA, Online community portal for Right to Information
- How to File RTI Online