State Information Commission
The Right to Information Act has been instrumental in empowering citizens to seek information and hold public authorities accountable. It has played a significant role in exposing corruption, improving governance, and enhancing transparency in India. Right to information is one of the fundamental right given under Article 19(1) (a) of Indian Constitution as freedom to speech can not be exercised without proper information.
Right to Information Act, 2005:
The Right to Information (RTI) Act is a law enacted by the Indian Parliament in 2005 to
promote transparency and accountability in the functioning of the government. It grants all
Indian citizens the right to access information held by public authorities.
Any citizen can file an application (known as an RTI application) to a public authority seeking information. The request can be made in writing or through electronic means, and the applicant is not required to provide a reason for seeking the information.
The public authority must respond to the RTI application within 30 days. In case the information concerns the life or liberty of a person, the response must be provided within 48 hours.
If the requested information is not provided or the applicant is unsatisfied with the response, they can file an appeal with a designated appellate authority. Further appeals can be made to the Information Commission at the central or state level.
The Act applies to all government and public authorities at the central, state, and local levels, including ministries, departments, public sector undertakings, and non-governmental organizations receiving government funds.
State Information Commission
The State Information Commission is a high powered independent body which looks into the complaints made to it and decides the appeals. It entertains complaints and appeal pertaining to officers, financial institutions, public sector undertakings etc. under the Central Government and the Union Territories.
Establishment : sec 15
Section 15 of RTI Act, 2005 empowers the State Government, by notification in the Official Gazette, constitute a body in their respective states to be known as the (name of the state ) State Information Commission.
Composition: sec 15
The commission consists of :
- State Chief Information Commissioner and
- Not more than 10 Information Commissioner.
Appointment of Information Commissioners:
They are appointed by the Governor on the recommendation of a committee consisting of:
- Chief Minister as Chairperson,
- The Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Assembly, and
- State Cabinet Minister nominated by the Chief Minister.
They should be persons of eminence in public life with wide knowledge and experience in law, science and technology, social service, management, journalism, mass media or administration and governance.
They should not be –
- A member of parliament or member of a Legislature of any state or union territory,
- They should not hold any other office of profit or
- Connected with any political party or
- Carrying on any business or pursuing any profession.
Tenure of Information Commissioners: sec 16
The State Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners shall hold
the office for such term as prescribed by the Central Government or until they
attain the age of 65 years, which is earlier.
Therefore term of office is:
65 years of age or
5 years from the date of entering office , whichever is earlier.
They are not eligible for reappointment.
Removal of Information Commissioner: sec 17
The Governor can remove the State Chief Information Commissioner or any Information Commissioner from the office under following circumstances:
- If he is adjudged an insolvent; or
- If he has been convicted of offence which in the opinion of president involves a moral turpitude; or
- If he engages during his term of office in any paid employment outside the duties of his office; or
- If he is in the opinion of the president unfit to continue in office due to infirmity of mind or body; or
- If he has acquired such financial or other interest as it likely to affect prejudically his official functions.
Ground for Removal :
The Governor can also remove the Chief Information Commissioner and
Information Commissioners on the ground of –
1. Proved misbehaviour or
Procedure for Removal:
The Governor has to refer the matter to the Supreme Court for an enquiry. If Supreme Court upholds the cause of removal, Governor can remove him.
Salary, Allowances and other service conditions:
The salary, allowances and other service conditions of State Chief
Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners shall be such as
prescribed by the Central Government.
The salary, allowances and other conditions cannot be varied to his disadvantage during service.
Powers and functions of State Information Commission: sec 18
Following are the powers and functions of the State Information Commission-
1. It is the duty of the commission to receive and inquire into a complaint from any person –
- who has not been able to submit an information request because of non appointment of a Public Information Officer;
- who has been refused information that was requested;
- who has not received response to his information request within the specified time limits;
- who thinks the fees charged are unreasonable;
- who thinks information given is incomplete misleading or false;
- any other matter relating to obtaining information.
2. Power to order Inquiry-
The commission can order inquiry into any matter if there are reasonable
grounds (Suo moto power).
While inquiring, Commission has the power of Civil Court in respect of following matters :
- summoning and enforcing attendance of persons,
- compelling them to give oral or written evidence on oath,
- to produce documents or things,
- discovery and inspection of documents,
- receiving evidence on affidavit,
- requestioning any public record from any office or Court,
- issuing summons for examination of witnesses or documents,
- any other matter which may be prescribed.
3. The commission has power to secure compliance of its decision from the public authority.
Submission of report by the Commission:
The Commission summits an annual report to the State Government on the implementation of the provisions of this Act. The State Government places this report before the State Legislature.
RTI Amendment Act , 2019
Following changes were brought out in the Act:
1. It provided that the Chief Information Commissioner and an Information Commissioner shall hold office for such term as prescribed by central government.
Before the amendment their term was fixed for five years.
2. It provided that the salary, allowances and other service conditions of chief information commissioner and an information commissioner shall be such as prescribed by central government.
Before this amendment the salary, allowance and other service conditions of the chief information commissioner was similar to those of cheif election commissioner and that of an information commissioner were similar to those of an election commissioner.
3. It provided that the state chief information commissioner and a state information commissioner shall hold office for such term as prescribed by central government.
Before this amendment their term was fixed for five years.
4. It provided that the salary, allowances and other service conditions of the state chief information commissioner and a state information commissioner Shall be such as prescribed by central government.
Before this amendment the salary allowances and other service or conditions of the state chief information commissioner was similar to those of an election commissioner and that of a state information commissioner were similar to those of chief secretary of the state government.
5. It removed the provisions regarding deduction in salary of CIC and IC , the state chief information commissioner and state information commissioner due to pension or any other retirement benefits received by them for their previous government service.
Right to Privacy.
Right to privacy is a fundamental right inherent under Article 21 of Indian Constitution i.e. Right to life and personal liberty. It is a recognized human right under Article 12 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights,1948. Indian Supreme court recognised this right as fundamental right in the case of Puttaswamy v. Union of India, 2017.