Right to Information and Obligation of Public Authorities

Published on October 04, 2018
Right to Information and Obligation of Public Authorities

1. Obligations (section 4)

Every public authority under the Act has been entrusted with a duty to maintain records and publish manuals, rules, regulations, instructions, etc. in its possession as prescribed under the Act. Every public authority has to publish within one hundred and twenty days of the enactment of this Act (note - came into force on October 12, 2005):

  1. the particulars of its organization, functions and duties; 
  2. the chart of powers and duties of each of its officers and employees; 
  3. the procedure followed in its decision making process, including channels of supervision and accountability; 
  4. the norms set by it for the discharge of its functions; 
  5. the rules, regulations, instructions, manuals and records used by its employees for discharging its functions; 
  6. a statement of the categories of the documents held by it or under its control; 
  7. details of any consultation arrangement with public (including representative) in regard to the formulation of any public policy or implementation thereof; 
  8. a statement of the boards, councils, committees and other bodies consisting of two or more persons constituted by it. Additionally, information as to whether the meetings of these are open to the public, or 
  9. the minutes of such meetings are accessible to the public; 
  10. a directory or any document carries contact detail along with name and designation of its officers and employees; 
  11. the detail of remuneration of each of its officers & employees, and policy of organisation on remunerations 
  12. the budget data of organisation including the details like allocation, plan for expenditure, proposed expenditure, disbursement made, mode thereof. Utilisation report and progress report need also to be recorded. 
  13. details of subsidy programmes run by public authority, including the amounts allocated and the details and beneficiaries of such programmes; 
  14. detail of all recipients to whom it allow concessions or authorizations granted by it; 
  15. details of the information which recorded in an electronic form with all attributes; 
  16. facilities offered to citizens at large for obtaining information, and detail of reading room etc if available 
  17. details of the Public Information Officers with attributes like Name, Designation in organisation, Contact details etc. 
  18. any other information as may be prescribed (need to update the these publications every year). 

2. Procedure for obtaining the information

  • The Act specifies the manner in which requests may be made by a citizen to the authority for obtaining the information. It also provides for transferring the request to the other concerned public authority that may hold the information. 
  • Application is to be submitted in writing or electronically, with prescribed fee, to Public Information Officer (PIO). 
  • Note - Application fee of rupee ten is need be paid, by way of cash or by demand draft or bankers cheque or Indian Postal Order payable to accounts Office of the public authority. 

3. Disposal

  • On receiving application seeking information, depending upon nature and fact of application PIO take decision, whether information can be provided or not; 
  • Timeline for providing information 
  • Information is to be provided within 30 days. But such time is reduced to 48 hours where life or liberty is involved. 
  • Note; limit is of 35 days where request is given to Assistant PIO. If the interests of a third party are involved then time limit will be extended. Time taken for calculation and intimation of fees excluded from the time frame. 
But if PIO, reject the request, then PIO shall communicate to requestor;
  1. Reasons for such rejection 
  2. Time period with in which appeal against such rejection may be preferred 
  3. Particulars of the appellate authority 
  • Note - No action on application for 30 days is a deemed refusal. 
  • Note – For retrieving the data if print-outs are taken then rupee 2 per copy for each in A-4 or A-3 size paper created or copies will charged from requestor. For larger size paper actual charges or cost price of a copy will be charged. 

4. Appeal & Orders

  • Any person who does not receive a decision within the specified time or is aggrieved by a decision of the PIO may file an appeal under the Act. 
  • Appeal To whom Time Limit
    First It shall be to the officer senior in rank to the PIO in the concerned Public Authority Within 30 days from the expiry of the prescribed time limit or from the receipt of the decision
    Second Central or the State Information Commission Within 90 days of the date on which the decision was given or should have been made by the First Appellate Authority
Note - delay may be condoned by the Appellate Authority/commission if sufficient cause is shown.

  • Time limit for filing third Party appeal against PIO’s decision is 30 days to the first Appellate Authority; and, if order of first appeal need to be challenged before the appropriate Information Commission which is the second appellate authority, the same can be done within period of 90 days from the date of decision on the first appeal.
  • Burden of proof to show the justification of rejection/denial of information is on PIO. First Appeal shall be disposed of within 30 days from the date of its receipt or within such extended period not exceeding a total of forty-five days from the date of filing thereof, for reasons to be recorded in writing.

5. Penalties

Section 20 of the Act imposes stringent penalty on a Public Information Officer (PIO) for failing to provide information. Every PIO will be liable for fine of rupees 250 per day, up to a maximum of Rs. Rupees 25,000 for

  1. not accepting an application;
  2. delaying information release without reasonable cause;
  3. malafide denial for information;
  4. knowingly giving incomplete, incorrect, misleading information;
  5. destroying information that has been requested; and
  6. Creating obstacles in furnishing of information

The Information Commission (IC) at the Centre and at the State levels will have the power to impose this penalty.

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