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 Governments 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.
BE it enacted by Parliament in the Fifty-sixth Year of the Republic of India as follows:--
Section 1. Short title, extent and commencement
(1) This Act may be called the Right to Information Act, 2005.
(2) It extends to the whole of India except the State of Jammu and Kashmir.
(3) The provisions of sub-section (1) of section 4, sub-sections (1) and (2) of section 5, sections 12, 13, 15,16, 24, 27 and 28 shall come into force at once, and the remaining provisions of this Act shall come into force on the one hundred and twentieth day of its enactment.";
Section 2. Definitions
In this Act, unless the contextotherwise requires,--
(a) "appropriate Government"means in relation to a public authority which is established, constituted,owned, controlled or substantially financed by funds provided directly orindirectly--
(i) by the Central Government or theUnion territory administration, the Central Government;
(ii) by the State Government, the StateGovernment;
(b) "Central InformationCommission" means the Central Information Commission constituted undersub-section (1) of section 12;
(c) "Central Public InformationOfficer" means the Central Public Information Officer designated undersub-section (1) and includes a Central Assistant Public Information Officerdesignated as such under sub-section (2) of section 5;
(d) "Chief InformationCommissioner" and "Information Commissioner" means the ChiefInformation Commissioner and Information Commissioner appointed undersub-section (3) of section 12;
(e) "competent authority"means--
(i) the Speaker in the case of theHouse of the People or the Legislative Assembly of a State or a Union territoryhaving such Assembly and the Chairman in the case of the Council of States of aLegislative Council of States;
(ii) the Chief Justice of India in thecase of the Supreme Court;
(iii) the Chief Justice of the HighCourt in the case of a High Court;
(iv) the President or the Governor, asthe case may be, in the case of other authorities established or constituted byor under the Constitution;
(v) the administrator appointed underarticle 239 of the Constitution;
(f) "information" means anymaterial in any form, including records, documents, memos, e-mails, opinions,advices, press releases, circulars, orders, logbooks, contracts, reports,papers, samples, models, data material held in any electronic form andinformation relating to any private body which can be accessed by a publicauthority under any other law for the time being in force;
(g) "prescribed" meansprescribed by rules made under this Act by the appropriate Government or thecompetent authority, as the case may be;
(h) "public authority" meansany authority or body or institution of self-government established orconstituted,--
(a) by or under the Constitution;
(b) by any other law made byParliament;
(c) by any other law made by StateLegislature;
(d) by notification issued or ordermade by the appropriate Government, and includes any--
(i) body owned, controlled orsubstantially financed;
(ii) non-Government organisationsubstantially financed, directly or indirectly by funds provided by theappropriate Government; (i) "record" includes--
(i) any document, manuscript and file;
(ii) any microfilm, microfiche andfacsimile copy of a document;
(iii) any reproduction of image orimages embodied in such microfilm (whether enlarged or not); and
(iv) any other material produced by acomputer or any other device;
(j) "right to information"means the right to information accessible under this Act which is held by orunder the control of any public authority and includes the right to--
(i) inspection of work, documents,records;
(ii) taking notes, extracts, orcertified copies of documents or records;
(iii) taking certified samples ofmaterial;
(iv) obtaining information in the formof diskettes, floppies, tapes, video cassettes or in any other electronic modeor through printouts where such information is stored in a computer or in anyother device;
(k) "State InformationCommission" means the State Information Commission constituted undersub-section (1) of section 15;
(l) "State Chief Information Commissioner"and "State Information Commissioner" mean the State Chief InformationCommissioner and the State Information Commissioner appointed under sub-section(3) of section 15;
(m) "State Public InformationOfficer" means the State Public Information Officer designated undersub-section (1) and includes a State Assistant Public Information Officerdesignated as such under sub-section (2) of section 5.
(n) "third party" means aperson other than the citizen making a request for information and includes apublic authority.
Section 3. Right to information
Subject to the provisions of this Act, all citizens shall have the right to information.
Section 4. Obligations of public authorities
(1)Every public authority shall--
(a)maintain all its records duly catalogued and indexed in a manner and the formwhich facilitates the right to information under this Act and ensure that allrecords that are appropriate to be computerised are, within a reasonable timeand subject to availability of resources, computerised and connected through anetwork all over the country on different systems so that access to suchrecords is facilitated;
(b)publish within one hundred and twenty days from the enactment of this Act,--
(i) theparticulars of its organisation, functions and duties;
(ii)the powers and duties of its officers and employees;
(iii)the procedure followed in the decision making process, including channels ofsupervision and accountability;
(iv)the norms set by it for the discharge of its functions;
(v) therules, regulations, instructions, manuals and records, held by it or under itscontrol or used by its employees for discharging its functions;
(vi) astatement of the categories of documents that are held by it or under itscontrol;
(vii)the particulars of any arrangement that exists for consultation with, or representationby, the members of the public in relation to the formulation of its policy orimplementation thereof;
(viii)a statement of the boards, councils, committees and other bodies consisting oftwo or more persons constituted as its part or for the purpose of its advise,and as to whether meetings of those boards, councils, committees and otherbodies are open to the public, or the minutes of such meetings are accessiblefor public;
(ix) adirectory of its officers and employees;
(x) themonthly remuneration received by each of its officers and employees, includingthe system of compensation as provided in its regulations;
(xi)the budget allocated to each of its agency, indicating the particulars of allplans, proposed expenditures and reports on disbursements made;
(xii)the manner of execution of subsidy programmes, including the amounts allocatedand the details of beneficiaries of such programmes;
(xiii)particulars of recipients of concessions, permits or authorisations granted byit;
(xiv)details in respect of the information, available to or held by it, reduced inan electronic form;
(xv)the particulars of facilities available to citizens for obtaining information,including the working hours of a library or reading room, if maintained for publicuse;
(xvi)the names, designations and other particulars of the Public InformationOfficers; .
(xvii)such other information as may be prescribed; and thereafter update thesepublications every year;
(c)publish all relevant facts while formulating important policies or announcingthe decisions which affect public;
(d)provide reasons for its administrative or quasi judicial decisions to affectedpersons.
(2) Itshall be a constant endeavour of every public authority to take steps inaccordance with the requirements of clause (b) of sub-section (1) to provide asmuch information suo motu to the public at regular intervals through variousmeans of communications, including internet, so that the public have minimumresort to the use of this Act to obtain information.
(3) Forthe purpose of sub-section (1), every information shall be disseminated widelyand in such form and manner which is easily accessible to the public.
(4) Allmaterials shall be disseminated taking into consideration the cost effectiveness,local language and the most effective method of communication in that localarea and the information should be easily accessible, to the extent possible inelectronic format with the Central Public Information Officer or State PublicInformation Officer, as the case may be, available free or at such cost of themedium or the print cost price as may be prescribed.
Explanation.--For the purposes of sub-sections (3) and (4),"disseminated" means making known or communicated the information tothe public through notice boards, newspapers, public announcements, mediabroadcasts, the internet or any other means, including inspection of offices ofany public authority.
Section 5. Designation of Public Information Officers
(1) Every public authority shall, within one hundred days of the enactment of this Act, designate as many officers as Central Public Information Officers or State Public Information Officers, as the case may be, in all administrative units or offices under it as may be necessary to provide information to persons requesting for the information under this Act.
(2) Without prejudice to the provisions of sub-section (1), every public authority shall designate an officer, within one hundred days of the enactment of this Act, at each sub-divisional level or other sub-district level as a Central Assistant Public Information Officer or a State Assistant Public Information Officer, as the case may be, to receive the applications for information or appeals under this Act for forwarding the same forthwith to the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer or senior officer specified under sub-section (1) of section 19 or the Central Information Commission or the State Information Commission, as the case may be.
Provided that where an application for information or appeal is given to a Central Assistant Public Information Officer or a State Assistant Public Information Officer, as the case may be, a period of five days shall be added in computing the period for response specified under sub-section (1) of section 7.
(3) Every Central Public Information-Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, shall deal with requests from persons seeking information and render reasonable assistance to the persons seeking such information.
(4) The Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, may seek the assistance of any other officer as he or she considers it necessary for the proper discharge of his or her duties.
(5) Any officer, whose assistance has been sought under sub-section (4), shall render all assistance to the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, seeking his or her assistance and for the purposes of any contravention of the provisions of this Act, such other officer shall be treated as a Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be.
Section 6. Request for obtaining information
(1) A person, who desires to obtain any information under this Act, shall make a request in writing or through electronic means in English or Hindi in the official language of the area in which the application is being made, accompanying such fee as may be prescribed, to--
(a) the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, of the concerned public authority;
(b) the Central Assistant Public Information Officer or State Assistant Public Information Officer, as the case may be, specifying the particulars of the information sought by him or her:
Provided that where such request cannot be made in writing, the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, shall render all reasonable assistance to the person making the request orally to reduce the same in writing.
(2) An applicant making request for information shall not be required to give any reason for requesting the information or any other personal details except those that may be necessary for contacting him.
(3) Where an application is made to a public authority requesting for an information,--
(i) which is held by another public authority; or
(ii) the subject matter of which is more closely connected with the functions of another public authority, the public authority, to which such application is made, shall transfer the application or such part of it as may be appropriate to that other public authority and inform the applicant immediately about such transfer:
Provided that the transfer of an application pursuant to this sub-section shall be made as soon as practicable but in no case later than five days from the date of receipt of the application.
Section 7. Disposal of request
(1) Subject to the proviso to sub-section (2) of section 5 or the proviso to subsection (3) of section 6, the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be on receipt of a request under section 6 shall, as expeditiously as possible, and in any case within thirty days of the receipt of the request, either provide the information on payment of such fee as may be prescribed or reject the request for any of the reasons specified in sections 8 and 9:
Provided that where the information sought for concerns the life or liberty of a person, the same shall be provided within forty-eight hours of the receipt of the request.
(2) If the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be fails to give decision on the request for information within the period specified under sub-section (1), the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be shall be deemed to have refused the request.
(3) Where a decision is taken to provide the information on payment of any further fee representing the cost of providing the information, the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be shall send an intimation to the person making the request, giving--
(a) the details of further fees representing the cost of providing the information as determined by him, together with the calculations made to arrive at the amount in accordance with fee prescribed under sub-section (1), requesting him to deposit that fees, and the period intervening between the despatch of the said intimation and payment of fees shall be excluded for the purpose of calculating the period of thirty days referred to in that sub-section;
(b) information concerning his or her right with respect to review the decision as to the amount of fees charged or the form of access provided, including the particulars of the appellate authority, time limit, process and any other forms.
(4) Where access to the record or a part thereof is required to be provided under this Act and the person to whom access is to be provided is sensorily disabled, the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be shall provide assistance to enable access to the information, including providing such assistance as may be appropriate for the inspection.
(5) Where access to information is to be provided in the printed or in any electronic format, the applicant shall, subject to the Provisions sub-section (6), pay such fee as may be prescribed :
"Provided that the fee prescribed under sub-section (1) of section 6 and subsections (1) and (5) of section 7 shall be reasonable and no such fee shall be charged from the persons who are of below poverty line as may be determined by the appropriate Government."
(6) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (5), the person making request for the information shall be provided the information free of charge where a public authority fails to comply with the time limits specified in sub-section (1).
(7) Before taking any decision under sub-section (1), the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be shall take into consideration the representation made by a third party under section 11.
(8) Where a request has been rejected under sub-section (1), the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be shall communicate to the person making the request,--
(i) the reasons for such rejection;
(ii) the period within which an appeal against such rejection may be preferred; and
(iii) the particulars of the appellate authority.
(9) An information shall ordinarily be provided in the form in which it is sought unless it would disproportionately divert the resources of the public authority or would be detrimental to the safety or preservation of the record in question.
Section 8. Exemption from disclosure of information
(1) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, there shall be no obligation to give any citizen,--
(a) 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 offence;
(b) 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;
(c) information, the disclosure of which would cause a breach of privilege of Parliament or the State Legislature;
(d) 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;
(e) 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;
(f) information received in confidence from foreign government;
(g) 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;
(h) information which would impede the process of investigation or apprehension or prosecution of offenders;
(i) 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:
Provided further that those matters which come under the exemptions specified in this section shall not be disclosed;
(j) information which relates to personal information the disclosure of which has not 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 cannot be denied to the Parliament or a State Legislature shall not be denied to any person.
(2) Notwithstanding anything in the Official Secrets Act, 1923(19 of 1923) nor any of the exemptions permissible in accordance with sub-section (1), a public authority may allow access to information, if public interest in disclosure outweighs the harm to the protected interests.
(3) Subject to the provisions of clauses (a), (c) and (i) of sub-section (1), any information relating to any occurrence, event or matter which has taken place, occurred or happened twenty years before the date on which any request is made under section 6 shall be provided to any person making a request under that section:
Provided that where any question arises as to the date from which the said period of twenty years has to be computed, the decision of the Central Government shall be final, subject to the usual appeals provided for in this Act
Section 9. Grounds for rejection to access in certain cases
Without prejudice to the provisions of section 8, a Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be may reject a request for information where such a request for providing access would involve an infringement of copyright subsisting in a person other than the State.
Section 10. Severability
(1) Where a request for access to information is rejected on the ground that it is in relation to information which is exempt from disclosure, then, notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, access may be provided to that part of the record which does not contain any information which is exempt from disclosure under this Act and which can reasonably be severed from any part that contains exempt information.
(2) Where access is granted to a part of the record under sub-section (1), the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be shall give a notice to the applicant, informing,--
(a) that only part of the record requested, after severance of the record containing information which is exempt from disclosure, is being provided;
(b) the reasons for the decision, including any findings on any material question of fact, referring to the material on which those findings were based;
(c) the name and designation of the person giving the decision;
(d) the details of the fees calculated by him or her and the amount of fee which the applicant is required to deposit; and
(e) his or her rights with respect to review of the decision regarding nondisclosure of part of the information, the amount of fee charged or the form of access provided, including the particulars of the senior officer specified under sub-section (1) of section 19 or the Central Information Commission or the State Information Commission, as the case may be, time limit, process and any other form of access.
Section 11. Third party information
(1)Where a Central Public Information Officer or the State Public informationOfficer, as the case may be intends to disclose any information or record, orpart thereof on a request made under this Act, which relates to or has beensupplied by a third party and has been treated as confidential by that thirdparty, the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer,as the case may be, shall, within five days from the receipt of the request,give a written notice to such third party of the request and of the fact thatthe Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, asthe case may be, intends to disclose the information or record, or partthereof, and invite the third party to make a submission in writing or orally,regarding whether the information should be disclosed, and such submission ofthe third party shall be kept in view while taking a decision about disclosureof information:
Providedthat except in the case of trade or commercial secrets protected by law,disclosure may be allowed if the public interest in disclosure outweighs inimportance any possible harm or injury to the interests of such third party.
(2)Where a notice is served by the Central Public Information Officer or StatePublic Information Officer, as the case may be, under sub-section (1) to athird party in respect of any information or record or part thereof, the thirdparty shall, within ten days from the date of receipt of such notice, be giventhe opportunity to make representation against the proposed disclosure.
(3)Notwithstanding anything contained in section 7, the Central Public InformationOfficer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, shall, withinforty days after receipt of the request under section 6, if the third party hasbeen given an opportunity to make representation under sub-section (2), make adecision as to whether or not to disclose the information or record or partthereof and give in writing the notice of his decision to the third party.
(4) Anotice given under sub-section (3) shall include a statement that the thirdparty to whom the notice is given is entitled to prefer an appeal under section19 against the decision.