Right to Information Act comes into force in India

Right to Information Act comes into force in India

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The path-breaking Right to Information Act (RTI), giving legal rights to people to seek information from the government and curb corruption, came into force in India, on Wednesday, placing India among the 55 countries to have such legislation. The Act was passed by the Parliament in the last budget session and got presidential assent on June 15. It is aimed at bringing about transparency and accountability in the working of public offices. The new law, would not be applicable in the Jammu and Kashmir, is meant to curb corruption and inefficiency in the government at various levels as it brings within its ambit Central and State administrations, local bodies and non-governmental organisations getting public funds.
The centre has to appoint a Central Information Commission which will consist of a Chief information commissioner and central information commissioners. The Chief information commissioner and information commissioners will be appointed by the president on the recommendation of a committee — comprising the Prime Minister, who shall be the chairperson of the committee, the leader of the opposition in the lok sabha and a union cabinet minister to be nominated by the PM.
The Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners will be appointed by the President of India on the recommendation of a committee — comprising the Indian Prime Minister, who shall be the Chairperson of the committee, the Leader of the Opposition in the Lower House of the Parliament and a Union Cabinet Minister to be nominated by the Prime Minister.
The name of senior retired Indian Administrative Service officer from Jammu and Kashmir, Wajahat Habibullah, is understood to have been cleared for the Chief Information Commission but a formal appointment is yet to be made. To ensure that the information sought is provided quickly, the Act makes it obligatory for the Public Information Officer(PIO) to provide the information requested for, as permissible under the act, within 30 days. The authorities are required to respond to queries in as little as 48 hours, if it is a matter of life and liberty.
The Bill exempts security and intelligence organizations from the Bill’s purview. Another remarkable feature is that the provisions of this Bill shall have overriding effect in the event of any conflict between the provisions of this Bill and the Official Secrets Act, 1923, or any other law for the time being in force. The passage of the Bill would create opportunities for the people of India to participate meaningfully in the democratic governance.