This section is intended for public officials. It focuses primarily on implementing and applying the national Right to Information Act 2005, which comes into force for all Central, State and local public authorities from 12 October 2005. References are also provided to the nine State Acts which are in existence at the time of writing. (NB: Already Karnataka, Maharashtra and Goa have indicated an intention to repeal their Acts and apply the Central Act from 12 October 2005. You should check the status of your State law.)
This section is designed not only to be read by Public Information Officers, Appellate Authorities and Information Commission staff, but also by ordinary civil servants as a guide to interpreting and understanding the right to information laws. This is because the right to information laws place a duty on all officers of government to ensure that the public can access information promptly and with little fuss. It is intended to be used as a guide for the people who will be interpreting the Act, and implementing it. It purports a rounded guide from preparing to implement the law to applying the law to the ongoing monitoring and evaluation of the law.
The concept of the "right to information" - a right which belongs to every member of the public under the Indian Constitution - carries with it a number of corresponding duties on public bodies and public officials, namely:
- The duty of public bodies to proactively provide the public with routine information;
- The duty of public bodies to provide other information upon request within a set amount of time and for a small fee.
The right to information is fundamental for the citizen to achieve good governance aims. The right creates a transparency and openness that allows the citizen power in the way that they are governed.
You may also wish to refer to CHRI's Online User's Guide, for an insight into the needs and questions of the public and the type of questions and information they will be requesting and the form that they will be requesting in.