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  3. Chronology of FOI laws Sweden 1766 Colombia 1888 Finland 1951 U.S.A 1966 Denmark, Norway 1970 France 1978 Australia, New Zealand 1982 Canada 1983 So far, 97 countries have passed FOI laws. Global Historical Perspective

  4. National Historical Perspective • Article 19(1)(a) of Constitution • Supreme Court Decisions • Struggle by Media • Struggle by Civil Society • First Task Force…..1996 • FOI Act • State Acts • New RTI Law

  5. The Real ‘Swaraj’ will come not by the acquisition of authority by a few but by the acquisition of capacity by all to resist authority when abused. – Mahatma Gandhi

  6. The Beginning… • WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved… …to secure to all its citizens LIBERTY of thought, expression… …adopt, enact and give to ourselves this Constitution – Preamble to the Constitution of India Contd.

  7. Preamble • 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 transparencyand accountability in the working of every public authority,the constitution of a Central Information Commission and State Information Commissionsand for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

  8. 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 Governments and their instrumentalities accountable to the governed;

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

  10. 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. • BE it enacted by Parliament in the Fifty-sixth Year of the Republic of India as follows:—

  11. Informed Citizenry Practical Mechanism Transparency Objectives To contain corruption Accountability

  12. Jeremy Cronin: • "Democracy is speaking truth to power, making power truthful, and truth powerful."

  13. “Information is a source of learning. But unless it is organized, processed, and available to the right people in a format for decision making, it is a burden, not a benefit.” William Pollard Information as resource

  14. PARADIGM SHIFT An act which will be implemented by the people and acted upon by the government

  15. Basic Tenets • Fait accompli • Disclosure a rule and Secrecy an exception • Transparency means public interest • Public Interest overrides • It is a part of Global Process. • Governance will improve

  16. Important shift RTI Act is a complete code in itself Disclosure is a Rule and Denial is an exception Citizen to implement and Govt. Instrumentality to obey. To deny any information - Restrictions, conditions and prerequisites imposed and prescribed by law should be satisfied.


  18. Chapter 1 Preliminary • Section • 1. ‍ Short title, extent and commencement • 2. Definitions

  19. Important Concepts Competent Authority Appropriate Government A C C O U N T A B L I T Y T R A N P E R A N C Y Third Party Public Authority RTI Act based on 1. Transparency, 2. Accountability & 3. Containing Corruption Right to Information Information Record IC AA PIO APIO Containing Corruption

  20. Competent Authority President & Governors Chief Justice of SC /HCs Duties Rule Making Support to PAs Speaker LS & Speakers of LA Chairman Rajya Sabha/ LACs Administrator UTs

  21. Public Authority 3 Body, Institution or Authority Established or constituted by Constitution of india Act of Parliament or State Legislature Order or notification of appropriate Govt. And also includes Body owned controlled or substantially financed by appropriate Govt. NGO substantially financed from funds provided by appropriate Govt.

  22. “Information" • "information" means any material in any form, including records, documents, memos, emails, opinions, advices, press releases, circulars, orders, logbooks, contracts, reports, papers, samples, models, data material held in any electronic form and It includes information relating to any private body which can be accessed by a public authority under any other law for the time being in force;

  23. Information

  24. “Right to Information" (j) "right to information" means the right to information accessible under this Act which is held by or under the control of any public authorityand includes the right to— (i) inspection of work, documents, records; (ii) taking notes, extracts or certified copies of documents or records; (iii) taking certified samples of material; (iv) obtaining information in the form of diskettes, floppies, tapes, video cassettes or in any other electronic mode or through printouts where such information is stored in a computer or in any other device;

  25. Form of information • The Act specifies that • citizens have a right to obtain information in form of printouts, diskettes, floppies, tapes, video cassettes ‘or • in any other electronic mode’ or through printouts and • inspect documents, works and records. • Take samples.

  26. INSPECTION OF WORKas implied in section 2 (j)(i) of RTI Act 2005 • Inspection of work- • the act of inspecting or verifying a work, • or a check on work performance • or product quality made in accordance with the provisions of the RTI Act 2005 to view facts, ground reality or truth "spot checks may ensure a high level of performance "

  27. Inspection • a formal or official examination • the act of examining something closely (as for mistakes, impropriety, irregularity, illegality and so on) • The act of inspecting. • Official examination or review; • a formal or official examination; • a formal systematic questioning ; • the work of inquiring into something thoroughly and systematically • a detailed critical inspection

  28. Inspection • whether work/decition is within norms • whether there is irregularity • whether there is deception • whether substandard material /misleading is used • whether all Govt. norms are observed or not • whether models, trial pits etc, displayed or rules and procedures followed.s

  29. Example 1 • If one would like to know whether a particular structure is legal or illegal, there are say two ways to draft the query for seeking information on the same:One Way: Please inform me whether the structure XXXX is legal or illegal? (Question / answer format and as such in a way out of the ambit of RTI Act) • Another Way: Please provide me with a certified photocopy of the permission granted for structure XXXX.(Information sought in document (material /tangible) form and as such within the ambit of the RTI Act)

  30. Example No. 1 • Now suppose if the structure XXXX is illegal, then the PIO will have to respond saying that photocopy of the permission cannot be provided, because no permission has ever been granted for the structure XXXX, which means that the structure is illegal.Hence, both the queries seek the same information but the second one achieves the same purpose while at the same time remaining within the ambit of the RTI Act.

  31. Drafting queries for seeking information is the most skillful part of drafting a RTI application. • RTI Act is for seeking information in material form (e.g. Documents, CDs, Sample of Material used etc.) in possession of a Public (Government) Authority. • RTI Act is not for asking questions to a Public Authority e.g. Is this correct? What you have done is fair or unfair? etc.

  32. Third party 2 (n) "third party"means a person other than the citizen making a request for information and includes a public authority. First Party Requester of information Second Party Requester of information Third Party Individual, NGO, Company, another Govt, Public Authority

  33. “Record" (i) “Record" includes— (a) any document, manuscript and file; (b) any microfilm, microfiche and facsimile copy of a document; (c) any reproduction of image or images embodied in such microfilm (whether enlarged or not); and (d) any other material produced by a computer or any other device;


  35. Incident of Scant respect for RTI • A citizen was told that a VAO in Madurai district insisted people visiting him remove footwear before entering his room. I • Irked, by this, he sought a response through the Right to Information Act and wrote to the VAO and other officers up the ladder in the district and at the State level.

  36. RTI querry by a Citizen • Is there any rule that visitors to government offices shall not wear footwear, but leave them outside the premises while meeting the bureaucrats. If so, is there any G.O to this effect…. These were a few questions raised by an RTI activist in Madurai.

  37. Response by VAO & Tahasildar • The activist was told that a VAO in Madurai district insisted people visiting him remove footwear before entering his room. Irked, the activist sought a response through the Right to Information Act and wrote to the VAO and other officers up the ladder in the district and at the State level. • Swiftly, he got a response from the VAO concerned that there was no such rule or any Government Order. The jurisdiction Tahsildar also wrote back stating that there is no G.O.

  38. Response by Collector & State • However, the Personal Assistant (General) to the Madurai District Collector replied in a typical government format. • “The Act clearly spelt out the steps on how information shall be obtained in 2 (f) of the RTI Act of 2005. Since, your query does not fit into it, the information you had asked for shall not be disseminated by this office…” • A State officer, attached with the Public Information Department in Chennai, had a similar response.

  39. Citizen Perception • While appreciating the VAO and Tahsildar, the RTI activist, K. Hakeem, said that it is usually the lower-level officers who refuse information under RTI. In this case, the response from high offices shows scant respect to the RTI and info seeking public. • Source: • The Hindu dated 16/11/2015

  40. Area serious of Concern • How to sensitize this mentality ?