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01 March, 2011

Scope of RTI Act, India 2005

Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President of USA(1801-09) and author of the Declaration of Independence says  “A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine”. A thought provoking statement with lot of depth to it. It just doesn’t talk of majority in the parliament but about all those wrong-doers who wish to grow their wealth at the expense of everyone else.
Right to Information Act, was brought on the table and made a reality just to counter such elements of the society. RTI guarantees transparency of Information that is vital to its functioning and to contain corruption. In other words, it aids to hold governments and their instrumentalities accountable to the governed.

We will try and understand more about the SCOPE of RTI, What information is accessible and what isn’t.


The following Governments, Organizations  and bodies are covered under RTI and are subject to it.

  •  Central, State and Local Governments.
  • All bodies owned, controlled or substantially financed by these governments.
  • NGOs (Non Government Organizations) substantially financed directly or indirectly by appropriate government funds.
  •   Executive, Judiciary and legislature wings.
  •   The Act applies to all States and Union Territories of India, except the State of Jammu and Kashmir - which is covered under a State-level RTI law.

Information that can be seeked under RTI

The Act specifies that citizens have a right to:
  •  Request any information (as defined).
  • Obtain copies of documents.
  • Inspect documents, works and records.
  • Take certified samples of materials of work.
  • Obtain information about material held in any form (Electronic Media included)  such as
o   Records
o   Documents
o   Memos
o   Opinions & Advices
o   Press Releases
o   Circulars, orders & logbooks
o   Contracts
o   Reports, paper samples & models


The act also enforces non-disclosure of some Information which may be vital to the Country’s security and other related Information. Thus,  those part(s) of the requested records which are not exempt from disclosure and which can reasonably be severed from parts containing exempt information are to be provided to the Requestee under RTI.

This brings us to an important questions as to what information is not open to disclosure.

The following information is exempted from disclosure (S.8)

Information which would prejudicially
  • Affect the sovereignty and integrity of India
  • Affect the security, strategic, scientific or economic interests of the State.
  •  Affect the relation with foreign State.
  •  Leads to incitement of an offence.
  •  Information forbidden to be published by any court of law or tribunal or the disclosure of which may constitute contempt of court.
  •  Cause a breach of privilege of parliament or the state legislature.
  •  Affect commercial confidence, trade secrets or intellectual property, the disclosure of which would harm the competitive position of a third party.
  •   Information available to a person in his fiduciary relationship, competent authority if satisfied that the larger public interest can allow the disclosure of such information;
  •  Information received in confidence from foreign government.
This comprehensively covers the  scope of RTI, what information could be seeked and what is forbidden. Inshaallah, in the coming posts we will talk more about sample case studies of RTI and other related details.
Hope this information was helpful to all.


Sadiya Merchant said...

cool! thot u wer nevr gonna follow up! :P
n like i askd d last tym, wat do u do wen d authorities dont reply!!! *was d registrar of coop societies so i dunno d authority over him*.

also read recently about sum woman who tired to avail of sum info thru dis act n den she was murdered :((
so wats d point of bein abl to get d info wen using it isnt secure?

Md. Muddassir Shah said...

Ah my dear ardent reader:P

I was a bit occupied the last two months. Hope to gain speed from here on

1) The authorties dont reply thing will come in next post and I promise it will come soon :D

2) Abt being killed, you try to do anything good or point out anythig bad you stand a chance to lose life.

That is the risk and it is ur choice.

Prateek said...

Post was apt. I myself have practiced RTI twice. :) It's actually fun. :D

subtlescribbler said...

Yes it was very useful. wen the RTI they made us discuss about it in school, back then although we mugged up these details the only thing i had understood was that the full form of RTI was 'right to information' :)


Md. Muddassir Shah said...

Thanks friend.
Can you share me details with your RTI experience?
I can use them as case studies in my further posts.

Md. Muddassir Shah said...

So you mugged it all huh? ;0 :D

sayedkhadri said...

RTI is very useful but never got chance to practice it :(
Nicely written article about "Scope of RTI Act, India 2005" :)
Thanks for the info......

Md. Muddassir Shah said...

@Sayed Bhai,
THnaks for dropping by. It is such an encouragement.

subtlescribbler said...

at that time...yes! there was no other choice, the teachers would torture us with all soughts of things...Plus GDs were fun, you just had to cut the someone else's point u were declared to be a winner :P

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Md. Muddassir Shah said...

GDs havent changed much :)

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