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This article is written by Himanshu Kumar a student of B.COM LL.B., 5th year from K.K. University, Biharsharif, Nalanda, Bihar.


  “Secrecy being an instrument of conspiracy, ought to be the system of regular government”

                                                                                                                                       -Jeremy Bentham

Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer is book “Freedom of Information” expressed the view:-       

  • The right to Information is a right incidental to the constitutionally guaranteed right to freedom of speech and expression. The international movement to include it in the legal system gained prominence in 1946 with the General Assembly of the United Nations declaring freedom of information to be a fundamental human right and a touchstone for all other liberties. It culminated in the United Nation Conference on Freedom of Information held in Geneva in 1948.

The Right to information is one of the classic example of epitome in legal activism which is by far one of the refined tools to ensure transparency in the governmental system.

In 1766-Sweden adopts World’s first access to information law. The law provides establishes press freedom, including the including the freedom to print and disseminate materials  about the government. In the years of 1789 France’s Declaration of Human and Civil Rights.

In the 1946 UN General Assembly Resolution 59(1) on Freedom of information. In India first time introduce right to information related in the years of 1975.The journey of the Right To Information from a “Bill” to an “Act” may be divided into three phases. Phase 1 -1975 to 1996- there were infrequent, irregular demands to public and private  authorities for information. Phase 2-1996 to 2005- This phase is marked by formation of draft       RTI bill, spearhead by the NCPRI. Phase 3 -2005 to present. May 2005.  The RTI Bill passed by both houses of parliament.

Right to information is not expressly stated in any portion, but can be derived from Article -19(1)(a) and Article- 21 of the Constitution of India itself.

International Activities

In the  international arena right to information is warm welcomed. In the years of 1766-Sweden adopts world’s first access to information law. The law establishes press freedom, including the freedom to print and disseminate materials about the government, courts, and parliament. The law, which forms part of of Sweden’s constitution, recognizes that press to information  and states “To that end free access should be allowed to all archives, for the purpose of copying such documents in loco or obtaining certified copies of them”In the 1789 France’s Declaration of Human and Civil Rights which still forms parts of the French Constitution establishes at Articles 14 that “All citizens have the  right to ascertain ,by themselves, or thought  their  representatives ,the need for the public tax ,to consent to it freely, to watch over its use and to collection and duration  the right to information to acess to information In France its provides for public right to know any information. In the years of 1946 UN General Assembly Resolution 59(1) on Freedom of Information. Freedom of information is a fundamental rights and is the touchstone of all freedom to which the United Nation is considered.[i]  [1]The right to information gained prominence when the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted in 1948, giving everyone the right to seek and receive information and ideas through any media, regardless of frontiers.

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966 states that everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression, freedom to seek and impart information and ideas of all kinds.

Evolution and Development of the Right to Information Act in India

In the years  of 1986 in the popular case of Mr. Kulwar Vs Jaipur Municipal corporation[2]. In this case Hon’ble Supreme court held that  gave  clear cut direction that Freedom of Speech and Expression provide under Article 19 of the Indian constitution  clearly implies Right to information as without information the freedom of speech and expression cannot be fully used by the citizens.

In the years the of 1990 Heading the National Front government, Prime Minister V.P singh, First  politician  to lay emphasis on RTI, stressed on the importance of Rights to Information as a legislated right.

In years 1994 Mazdoor Kisan Shakit Sanghatan(MKSS) started a grassroots campaign for Right to information- demanding information concerning development works in rural Rajasthan enacting a law on Right to Information in 2000.

In years 1995: Draft Act was Formulated in a meeting of social activists at the LBSNAA, Mussoorie ,1995.

In  years 1996: National Campaign for people’s Right to information (NCPRI),one among several civil society groups, was founded with the objective of getting legislation on RTI passed. Due to growing demand for right to information the press Council of India under guridence of its Chairman Justice P B Sawant draft a law which was later updates and changed at workshop. The press council NIRD freedom of information Act 1997.  Tmail Nadu is the first state in Indian to introduce right to information Act. The Madhya Pradesh Government issused orders to 36 department to implements RTI which after increased to more than 50 departments.

In 1999 Public Interest Litigation (PIL)was filed before Supreme court to Lift restraint on Minsters Declear section 5 of Offical Secret Act 1923 is unconstitutional , so ask Government ot India tp issue suitable instrument for RTI , pending legislation. Union Urban Affirs Minister passed an administrative order on transparency in the Urban Affirs Ministry.

In 2000 Freedom of information Bill 2000 was introduce in Parliament ,and was referred  to a selected Committee of parliament .in 2001: NCT Delhi assembly passed a law on right to information .  

Passing of the RTI act from parliament

On 23rd December 2004, UPA Government presents the RTI bill 2004, which was applicable only to the Union Government. But the bill didn’t help the common people as it was applicable only to the Union Government, but after the protest by the NCPRI and other organizations the Right to Information Act, 2005 was passed with 150 amendments. So finally in 2005, the RTI Bill was passed in Lok Sabha on 11th May 2005 and in Rajya Sabha on 12th May 2005. The President gives his assent on 15th June 2005 which was published in the Gazette of India on 21st June 2005. Finally RTI Act, 2005 came in force from 12th October 2005, which is known as Right to Information Act, 2005 (Act No. 22 of 2005).


What is information in general?

 According to Merriam Webster dictionary – “Information means- knowledge obtained from investigation, study, or instruction.”

What is information under RTI act?

Section 2(f) [3]of the RTI Act defines what is information, and its depends on the many interpretation by the courts.

Information means any materials in any form ,including records, documents, memos, e-mails, opinions, advices, press release, circular, orders, logbooks, contracts, reports, papers, samples, modles, data, materials held in any electronic form and information relating to any private body which can be accessed by a public authority under any law for the time being in force  

Record includes—

1.Any document, manuscript, and file

2.Any microfilm, microfiche, and facsimile copy of a document.

3. Any reproduction of image or images embodied in such microfilm (whether enlarged or not)

      4Any other material produced by a computer or any other device.

Constitutional provision

The  preamble of the Indian constitution describe India is a sovereign, democratic ,republic. The interpretation of the rights conferred  by the constitution has to take its colour for the democratic, republic character of our body politic.

Article 19(1)(a) of the constitution, guarantees the fundamental rights to speech and expression which by implication includes with in it the right of access to information . Article 19 (2) _ permits the state to make any law insofar as such law imposes reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the rights conferred by Article 19 (1) (a) of the Constitution. The right to information also seems to flow from Article 21 of the Constitution on the right to life and liberty, which includes the right to know about things that affect our lives. The expression “right to life and personal liberty” is broad which includes within itself a variety of rights and attributes.

The ambit and scope of Article 21 is much wider as compared to Article 19 (1) (a). Article 32 and 226 of the Constitution guarantee ‘right to constitutional remedies’ whereby a citizen is entitled to seek a remedy in the Supreme Court and High Courts if his or her fundamental rights are violated. While there is no specific right to information or even right to freedom of the press in the Constitution of India, the right to information has been read into the Constitutional guarantees which are a part of the chapter on Fundamental Rights.

In Secretary General, Supreme Court of India V. Subhash  Chandra Agrawal[4]

In this case Hon’ble Delhi High Court held that – the source of rights to information does not emanate form Right to Information Act. It is a right that emerges form constitutional gurantee under Article 19 (1)(a) as held supreme court i8n a catena of decision. the right to information act is not the repository of the right to information. Its repository is the constitutional right guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a).

Article 39(1) (b) &(C)

This provides for adequate means of livelihood, equitable distribution of material resources of the community, to check concentration of the wealth and means of production. All these rights would be remained unfulfilled if right to information is not guaranteed ahead of these rights.

Article 51A

The constitution also imposes certain duties upon the citizens under Article 51A. A fully informed citizen is better equipped for the performance of these duties.

Beside aforementioned articles, the other articles that give right to information under Indian constitution are Articles 311(2) and 22(1). Article 311(2) provides for a govt. servant to know why he is being dismissed or removed or being demoted and representation can be made against the order. By way of Article 22(1) a person can know the grounds for his detention.

 In Essar Oil Ltd vs. Halar Utkarsha Samiti,[5] In this case Hon’ble the Supreme  Court  held that right to information emerges from right to personal liberty guaranteed by article 21 of constitution.

Supreme Court on Right to Information

Romesh Thappar v. State of Madras (1950)[6]

In this case Hon’ble Supreme court held that One of the earliest cases where the Supreme Court emphasized the people’s right to know. In this case, the petitioner challenged an order issued by the then Government of Madras under Section 9 (1-A) of the Madras Maintenance of Public Order Act, 1949 imposing a ban on the circulation of the petitioner’s journal ‘Cross Roads’. The order was struck down by the SC as violative of the right to freedom of speech and expression under Article 19(1)(a)

State of UP Vs  Raj  Narain ( 1975)[7]

In a government of responsibility like ours where the agents of the public must be responsible for their conduct, there can be but a few secrets. The people of this country have a right to know every public act, everything that is done in a public way by their public functionaries. They are entitled to know the particulars of every public transaction in all its bearings (State of UP vs Raj Narain Supreme Court of India, 1975)

Reliance Petrochemicals Ltd. v. Indian Express Newspapers Bombay (P) Ltd. (1988)[8]

Justice Mukharji recognized the right to know as emanating from the right to life. The question which arose was whether Reliance Petrochemicals Ltd. was entitled to an injunction against Indian Express which had published an article questioning the reliability of the former’s debenture issue. The learned Judge observed:

“We must remember that the people at large have a right to know in order to be able to take part in a participatory development in the industrial life and democracy. Right to know is a basic right which citizens of a free country aspire in the broader horizon of the right to live in this age on our land under Article 21 of our Constitution. That right has reached new dimensions and urgency. That right puts greater responsibility upon those who take upon themselves the responsibility to inform.”

Secy., Ministry of Information and Broadcasting v. Cricket Assn. of Bengal (1995)[9]

The Supreme Court, while considering the rights of a person to telecast a sports event on television through the use of air waves held that the right under Article 19(1)(a) includes the right to receive and acquire information and that viewers have the right to be informed adequately and truthfully. In support of this right, the Court quoted from Article 10 of the European Commission on Human Rights. The Court held that although a person seeking to le cast a sports event when he himself is not participating in the game is not exercising his right to self-expression, he is seeking to educate and entertain the public which is part of the freedom of expression. The Court held that the right of the viewer to be entertained and informed is also, likewise, integral to the freedom of expression

“True democracy cannot exist unless all citizens have a right to participate in the affairs of the polity of the country. The right to participate in the affairs to the country is meaningless unless the citizens are well informed on all sides of the issues, in respect of which they are called upon to express their views. One sided information, disinformation, misinformation and non-information all equally create an uninformed citizenry which makes democracy a farce when medium of information is monopolized either by a partisan central authority or by private individuals or oligarchic organizations. This is particularly so in a country like ours where about 65 per cent of the population is illiterate and hardly 1 1/2 per cent of the population has an access to the print media which is not subject to pre-censorship.”

PUCL v. Union of India (2004)[10]

The Peoples Union for Civil Liberties approached the Supreme Court challenging Section 33B of the Representation of People (Third Amendment) Act which nullified the decision in Association for Democratic Reforms (2002) by providing that candidates contesting elections need not file an affidavit of criminal antecedents and particulars as directed by the Court. This provision was held unconstitutional and void as it infringed the “right of electors’ to know”, a constituent of the fundamental right to free speech and expression and hindered free and fair elections, which is part of the basic structure of the Constitution. Subsequently, all criminal records and antecedents of candidates contesting elections are now mandated to be matters of public record.

Recent Development on RTI Act

In recent RTI Act is Amendment in the years of 2019.In this Amendment mainly three changes of   RTI  Act .

  • The term in office: As per the RTI Act, 2005, the Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) (at the Central and state level) will hold office for a term of 5 years. The Amended Act removes this provision and states that the Union government will notify the term of office for the CIC and ICs
  • Salaries: The RTI Act, 2005 states that the salary for the CIC and IC (at the Central level) will be equivalent to the salary paid to the Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners respectively. The amended Act removes these provisions and states that the salaries, allowances and other terms and conditions of services of the Central and State CIC and ICs will be determined by the Central government.
  • Salary deduction: The 2005 Act states that at the time of appointment of the CIC and ICs (at the Central and state levels) if they are receiving pensions or any other retirement benefits for the previous government services, their salary will be reduced by an amount equal to the pension. The 2019 amended Act removed this provision.

 Arguments  for the Amendment.

  • The Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners have salaries of an SC judge.
  • This brings the CIC and ICs on par with the SC judges.
  • It is argued that the functions carried out by the Election Commission of India and Central and State Information Commissions are different.
  • Election Commission of India is a constitutional body, Central Information Commission and State Information Commissions are statutory bodies established under the RTI Act, 2005.
  • CIC has been given the status of the SC judge. However, CIC’s judgements can be challenged in High Courts.
  • These amendments are made to correct certain irregularities in the RTI Act, 2005.
  • It is also argued that these amendments can strengthen the overall RTI structure

 Arguments  against the Amendment.

Threatens Federalism: 

  • It empowers Centre to unilaterally decide the tenure, salary, allowances and other terms of service of Information Commissioners, both as the Centre and state levels.
  • This is intentionally assaulting the idea of federalism.

Reduces the power of Information Commission:

  • It is also diminishing the status of the CIC, ICs and the State CICs from that of the Supreme Court Judge and would reduce their ability to issue the directives to the senior government officials, thereby undermining the basic principle of the RTI.
  • These amendments could “kill the RTI Act” and is an “affront to federalism, good governance and ultimately, democracy”.
  • It would also make freedom of speech meaningless.

Independence under question:

  • The amendments would empower the Centre to decide the tenure, salary and allowance of the Information Commissioners both at the Centre and the state levels.
  • Independence of the Commission is vital for its flawless functioning and the amendments take away just that.
  • These amendments reduce the independence of the Commission and can only function like a Department of the Central government.

No public consultation:

  • The Amendment Bill was brought to the Parliament without prior consultation from the public.
  • This is a huge concern in a democratic country as it is against the public will.

Do political parties come under the RTI Act?

  • Recently, the SC, in D.A.V College Trust and Management Society vs. Director of Public Instruction, had held that the NGOs that are substantially funded by the appropriate government fall within the ambit of ‘public authority’ under Section 2(h) of the RTI Act, 2005.
  • Under this section, the “public authority” means any authority or body or institution of self-government established or constituted by or under the constitution. It also includes any non-governmental organisation that is substantially financed directly or indirectly by funds provided by the appropriate government.
  • This  judgement can have wide ramifications in a pertaining to the ambit of the RTI regime on national political parties.
  • In the D.A.V case, the apex court held that “substantial” means a large portion which can be both, direct or indirect.
  • In 2010, the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) had filed an application under the RTI to all national parties, seeking information about the “10 maximum voluntary contributions” received by them in the past 5 years.
  • Consequently, ADR and a RTI activist had filed a petition with the Central Information Commission (CIC).
  • In 2013, the full bench of the CIC had held that all national parties come under ‘public authorities’ and were within the purview of the RTI Act.
  • Thus, they were directed to designate Central Public Information Officers (CPIOs) and the appellate authorities at their headquarters within 6 weeks.
  • In 2013, the RTI (amendment) Bill was introduced in the parliament to keep the political parties explicitly outside the purview of the RTI Act. But this Bill was lapsed following the dissolution of the 15th Lok Sabha.
  • Despite the binding value of the CIC’s order under Section 19(7) of the RTI Act, none of the political parties complied..
  • Finally, in 2019, a Public Interest Litigation was filed in the SC seeking the declaration of political parties as ‘public authorities’ and this matter is now under sub judice.
  • For instance, numerous concessions like land allocation, accommodation, bungalows in national and state capitals, tax exemption against income under Section 13A of the IT Act, free air time on TV and radio etc. can easily satisfy the prerequisite of Section 2(h) of the RTI.

Does CJI come under the RTI  Act.

  • The apex court had recently stated that the office of the Chief Justice of India (CJI) is a public authority and that it will come under ambit of the RTI Act.
  • This ruling was given by the 5-judge Constitution Bench that was headed by the Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi.


India is a Democracy Country. it is the citizens who are the ultimate inspection over and above their work ,and which is evident form the letter and spirit of section 2(j)(i) of the RTI Act,2005.

The rights to information Act was made to achieve social justice, transparency and   to make accountable government but this act has not achieve its obejectives due to some impediments cerated due to systematic failures.

The Delhi High Court observed that misuse of RTI Act to be appropriates delt with, otherwise the public lose faith and confidence.

The law provides us a precious opportunity in redesign the  process  of governance of particularly   at the grass roots level where the citizens .

In this time India is a transforming into a capitalist country where of the gap between having and have not’s are ameliorating day by day perhaps it is one of the only major tools to seeks  India into a utopian state.

  The major edifice on which its success depends is on the mass of the peoples, many NGO, civil society group ,and it has to kept in mind that it is not a dispute Redressal  forum here you can ask information 

[1]  https://www.access-info.org/2009-07-25/history-of-right-of-access-to-information/

[2] AIR 1988 Raj 2,1987(1)WLN  134

[3] https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1516599/

[4] AIR 2010 Del. 159(FB)

[5] 2004 2 S.C.C 392

[6] 1950 SCR 594

[7] 1975 SCR (3) 333

[8] 1988 SCR. SULP.(3)212

[9] 1995 SCC (2) 161

[10] AIR 1997 SC 568                                    



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