The enactment of the Right to Information Act, 2005 is a historic event in the annals of democracy in India. Information is power and now a citizen has a right to access information “held by or under the control of” the public authorities. Concurrently, it is the duty of all public authorities to provide information sought by citizens. A sea changed can be achieved towards transparency and accountability in the governance by implementing the Act in letter and spirit.
India being a welfare State, it is the duty of the Government to protect and enhance the welfare of the people. It is obvious from the Constitution of India that we have adopted a democratic form of Government. Where a society has chosen to accept democracy as its creed faith, it is elementary that the citizens ought to know what their Government is doing. The citizens have a right to decide by whom and by what rules they shall be governed, and they are entitled to call on those who can survive without accountability and the basic postulate of accountability is that the people should have information about the functioning of the Government. It is only if people know how Government is functioning that they can fulfill the role which democracy assigns to them and make democracy a really effective participatory democracy. “Knowledge”, said James Madison, “will forever govern ignorance and a people who meant to be their own governors must arms themselves with the power knowledge gives. A popular Government without popular information or the means to obtain it, is but a prologue to farce or tragedy or perhaps both”. The citizens’ right to know the facts, about the administration of the country is thus one of the pillars of a democratic State. And that is why the demand for openness in the Government is increasingly growing in different parts of the world.
The Act mandates a legal – institutional framework for setting out practical regime of right to information for every citizen to secure access to information under the control of public authorities. It prescribes mandatory disclosure of certain information to citizens, and designation of Public Information Officers and Assistant Public Information Officers in all public offices / institutions to attend to request from citizens for information within the stipulated time limits. It provides for appeal to officers senior in rank to Public Information Officers. It also mandates the constitution of a Central Information Commission and State Information Commissions to inquire into hear second appeals and guide implementation of the Act.
The Right to Information Act, 2005 is now 12 years old. Credit goes to the Civil Society activism that brought the RTI Act into force in India. Civil Society Organization like Mazdoor Kishan Shakti Sangathan, National Campaign on People’s Right to Information, Press Council and so on fought protracted and arduous campaign for enactment of the RTI Act in India.
The Indian Right to Information Act came fully into force on 12th October 2005. However, in the State of Arunachal Pradesh, the Arunachal Pradesh Information Commission (APIC) was constituted on 19/10/2006. The law created Information Commissions with unique powers which can imposed a penalty of ₹ 25,000/- on Public Information Officers (PIOs) for delay in disclosure of information and so on. India is one of the few countries to introduce such powerful Information Commissions.
The Right to Information Act, 2005 came into force on 12th October 2005. However, in the State of the Arunachal Pradesh Information Commission (APIC) was constituted on 19th October 2006 by government Notification No. OM-51/2005 dated 13.10.2006 with one Chief Information commissioner (CIC) and four Information Commissioners under section 15 of the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005.