Thursday, July 10, 2008

Informations which are exempted from RTI Act

Informations which are exempted from disclosure under Right to Information Act

By Deepak Miglani

India is the biggest democracy in the world. People are the masters of a democracy. Therefore the masters have a right to know how the government, meant to serve them are functioning. Every Citizen pays taxes, therefore they have the right to know how their money is being spent.

The Right to Information Act, 2005 has been passed to ensure and define the process of asking information.There is no obligation for the government to give any citizen the following information by :-

* Information, disclosure of which would prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security ,the strategic, scientific or economic interest of the State, relation with foreign State or lead to incitement of an offence.

* 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 disclosures 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 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; Provided that the decisions of Council of Ministers, the reasons thereof, and the material on the basis of which the decisions were taken shall be made public after the decision has been taken, and the matter is complete , or over. If those matters which come the exemptions specified in this section shall not be disclosed.

* 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 unless the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer or the appellate authority, as the case may be, is satisfied that the larger public interest justifies the disclosure of such information: provided that the information which can not be denied to the Parliament or a State Legislature shall not be denied to any person.

Notwithstanding anything in the Official Secret Act, 1923 , a public authority may allow access to information, if public interest in disclosure outweighs the harm to the protected interest.

Courtesy_
http://blog.milagrow.in

India's RTI Act better than US's FOIA

India's Right to Information Act better than US: US’s FOIA expert

MyNews Network

Ahmedabad: An expert on the US Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which can be termed as the American version of the Right to Information (RTI) Act, late Wednesday said India’s law is better than that of United States.

Thomas Susman, who has been working on FOIA since 1968, was here to share the American experience of the law over the years.

"India has a better law than the us. India has an information commissioner, penalty for delay in providing information, specification on fees to be collected, US has nothing of that kind," said Susman who has already visited four Indian states.

"The experience of the Freedom of Information Act in the US has been great but not good enough. Though enacted in 1966, it came into effect only in 1967, and since then, has gone through a series of amendments over the years," Susman further said.

"In the early days we faced political pressures to shut down information being given to the people," Susman added.

"We did not have a vigorous society or involvement of civil society and activists who pushed for such a regulation. But we had the press and the media, who along with NGOs, have been instrumental in the enactment of FOIA", Susman said.

Talking about his Indian experience on RTI Susman said, "If I sum up my experience here I would say there is a vast difference in implementation of the same act in different parts of the country."

"There are things good and bad in both the laws. RTI is like a tool which will rust if not used," Susman added.

© 2008 mynews.in

Courtesy_
http://mynews.in

RTI Act effective against graft: U.N. report

RTI Act effective against graft: U.N. report

Special Correspondent

“India has implemented key options”

NEW DELHI: The Right to Information Act 2005 was “one of the most progressive legislations” in the developing world for tackling corruption, according to a United Nations report released on Thursday.

India was one of the eight countries in Asia and the Pacific to enact such a legislation, the United Nations Development Report on “Tackling Corruption, Transforming Lives – Accelerating Human Development in Asia and the Pacific” said, adding it was perhaps too soon to judge whether the legislation had worked throughout the region.

The process through which the Act was drafted and came into force in India illustrated the power of sustained pressure: when the government proposed to amend the law to exclude some administrative files and Cabinet papers from it, intense pressure from civil society organisations forced it to drop the plan, the report said.

India’s law was particularly effective, the report said, because it specified information that must be disclosed on a proactive basis, including some that would help expose corruption.

Precise information

The Act also allowed individuals and organisations investigating corruption to ask for precise information.

For example, while generally excluding information from the intelligence agencies, it specifically allowed for the disclosure of information “pertaining to allegations of corruption or human rights violations.”

According to the report, India had implemented a number of key options to combat corruption.

They included the progressive Right to Information Act, using Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and e-governance to make the administration more transparent, encouraging media and citizen initiatives and becoming a signatory to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption.

The report found that where democracy was most effective at checking corruption, it did not necessarily do so through the system-level “hardware” such as elections, but through the deeper ability to voice demands that were taken seriously by the government – that of the civil society organisation.

At the same time, there were many other ways individuals could act to combat corruption: asking questions, resisting demands for bribes, reporting the activities of corrupt officials and refusing to deal with corrupt businesses.

Role of media hailed

The report also appreciated the role of the media and investigative journalists against high-profile offenders leading to their resignations and prosecutions.

© Copyright 2000 - 2008 The Hindu

Courtesy_
http://www.thehindu.com

Preamble of the Right to Information Act

Preamble of the Right to Information Act

The Preamble: THE RIGHT TO INFORMATION BILL, 2005

A Bill 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.

WHEREAS the Constitution of India has established democratic Republic;

AND WHEREAS democracy requires an informed citizenry and transparency of information which are vital to its functioning and also to contain corruption and to hold Goverments and their instrumentalities accountable to the governed;

AND WHEREAS revelation of information in actual practice is likely to conflict with other public interests including efficient operations of the Governments, optimum use of limited fiscal resources and the preservation of confidentiality of sensitive information;

AND WHEREAS it is necessary to harmonise these conflicting interests while preserving the paramountcy of the democratic ideal;

NOW, THEREFORE, it is expedient to provide for furnishing certain information to citizens who desire to have it

Comments: The preamble is the soul of the Act. When there is any confusion or dilemma about the meaning or interpretation of the provisions, it should be tested on the touchstone of the preamble. Just as the basic features of the Constitution are unalterable, and form the basis for interpretation of laws, the preamble of an Act should be understood to arrive at the objectives of the Act. The fact that the Right to Information is part of the fundamental rights of Citizens under Article 19 (1) has been recognised by various Courts, since the landmark decisions in the Raj Narain case, S.P.Gupta case and the ADR case amongst others.

This is not a new right conferred on the Citizens but is a part of our Fundamenatal right to Freedom of Expression under Article 19 (1).

The legislative intent is clear when it admits the need for an informed citizenry, “to contain corruption and to hold Governments and their instrumentalities accountable to the governed.” Thus the objective of this Act is to enable Citizens to hold all the instrumentalities of the Government accountable. In the next paragraph it recognises that in doing this, there may be a conflict with other public interests including running the Government and limited fiscal resources.

The last paragraph unequivocally declares ,” AND WHEREAS it is necessary to harmonise these conflicting interests while preserving the paramountcy of the democratic ideal;” . Thus it is clear that in making the law, Parliament has recognised the need to harmonise different needs for running the Government and harmonised them with the paramountcy of the democratic ideal. Very often the various functionaries arrogantly assume that they are a better judge of what is good for governance, and therefore misinterpret all laws through their paradigm of what will lead to good governance. They must understand that these aspects have been considered actively by the lawmakers when framing the law. It is essential that all the elements of society: all the Public servants,- in the legislature, judiciary and the executive;- and the Citizens- the masters of the democracy,- follow all laws. The essence of democracy is that each individual Citizen is a sovereign in her own right, and she gives part of the sovereignty to the State, in return for which she gets the rule of law. Thus it is a negotiation of each individual sovereign with the State for the common rule of law.

Courtesy_
http://shaileshgandhi.blogspot.com

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The RTI Act was passed by the Lok Sabha (Lower House) on 11 May 2005, by the Raj Sabha (Upper House) on 12 May 2005 and received Presidential assent on 15 June 2005. Parts of the Act came into force upon Presidential assent, but the Act came fully into force on 12 October 2005, 120 days after Presidential assent.

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This Blog Spot is meant for publishing reports about the usage of RTI Act (Right to Information Act, 2005) so as to create an awareness to the general public and also to keep it as a ready reckoner by them. So the readers may extend their gratitude towards the Author as we quoted at the bottom of each Post under the title "Courtesy".Furthermore, the Blog Authors are no way responsible for the correctness of the materials published herein and the readers may verify the concerned valuable sources.

Dinamani - RTI News