SNS’s work related to the RTI
SNS assists people exercise their right to information and empowers individuals to use the RTI Act. We work with residents of slums in Delhi to create awareness about their rights and entitlements and help them in using the RTI Act to access information from the government. On the basis of information accessed under the RTI Act, the Sangathan mobilises people to hold the government accountable for delivery of basic rights, entitlements and services like ration, pensions, health, sanitation, education etc. by organising public hearings, filings complaints and petitions etc.
Read about Sumitra’s battle for her pension in the Business Standard
Read how residents of slum settlements are using the RTI Act to ensure accountability of their MLAs in The Mint
Read how people are using the RTI Act to fight against bribes in the Times of India
Read how people have used the RTI Act to ensure quality education for their children in the TOI.
Impact of Digital Personal Data Protection Bill, 2022 on the RTI Act
The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has placed the draft Digital Personal Data Protection Bill, 2022 in the public domain for feedback. The bill proposes a completely new legal framework for processing personal data. It also seeks to amend key provisions of the Right to Information Act, which will weaken the law and impact millions of Indians who use the RTI Act to seek information and hold the government accountable.
Letter by the NCPRI to the Minister of MeitY on the subject- “Concerns regarding non-compliance with established principles of pre-legislative consultation for the Digital Personal Data Protection Bill, 2022” December 14, 2022
Amendments made to the RTI Act in 2019
The RTI Amendment Bill, 2019 was passed by Parliament in July 2019 and received the President’s assent on August 1, 2019, thereby becoming an Act.
The amendment empowers the Central government to make rules to decide the tenure, salary, allowances and other terms of service of Information Commissioners of the Central Information Commission and also of State Information Commissions. This fundamentally weakens the institution of the information commissions as it adversely impacts their ability to function in an independent manner.
Prior to the amendments, the law defined a fixed tenure of five years (subject to retirement at 65 years) for information commissioners and the salaries, allowances and other terms of service for commissioners of the Central Information Commission and chiefs of the state information commissions were on par with election commissioners, which were the same as that of Supreme Court judges and were decided by Parliament.
Despite strong opposition within and outside Parliament, the amendments were pushed through without even being referred to a standing or select committee of Parliament. The RTI Amendment Act, 2019 has been challenged in courts.
RTI (Term of Office, Salaries, Allowances and Other Terms and Conditions of Service of Chief Information Commissioner, Information Commissioners in the Central Information Commission, State Chief Information Commissioner and State Information Commissioners in the State Information Commission) Rules, 2019
Proposed RTI Rules 2017
In March 2017, the government proposed a new set of rules RTI Rules 2017 to replace the existing rules and invited comments from the public.
Video of street play on the RTI Act by SNS’s Youth Group
How to use the RTI Act
In 2005, as a result of a decade long civil society struggle for a law guaranteeing citizens the right to obtain information, the National Right to Information Act was passed. It provides a practical regime for ensuring citizens’ access to information held by the government and all bodies owned, controlled or substantially financed directly/indirectly by government.
Under the RTI Act, citizens can access information from the legislature, executive and judiciary. The Act applies to the local, state and central governments.
The RTI Act guarantees citizens the right to obtain information held by a public authority in the form of records, documents, memos, e-mails, opinions, advices, press releases, circulars, orders, logbooks, contracts, reports, papers, samples, models or data material held in any electronic form. Citizens can take copies or inspect records, inspect works and can also ask for samples of materials used.
The Act defines a process and timeframe for obtaining information and fixes accountability on officials to provide information.
Under the RTI Act, Public Information Officers (PIOs) have been appointed in all public authorities to receive requests and provide information.
Read more about the RTI Act in this primer on the law which includes suggested format for filing applications under the RTI Act and sample questions. Read a pamphlet on the RTI Act in English and Hindi.