This is a collection of government guidelines, and ancillary legislation, as well as the primary statute that governs the Right to Information in India.
This Act has been enacted to provide citizens access to information available with public authorities in order to promote transparency and accountability with the Government. For this purpose, the Act has constituted a National Information Commission and State Information Commissions. The Act defines what constitutes the right to information, to mean the accessibility of information under the control of any public authority. The type of information which may be obtained is defined under Section 2 (f) of the Act as any material in any form, including records, documents, memos, e-mails, opinions, advices, press releases, circulars, orders, log books, contracts, reports, papers, samples, models, data material held in any electronic form and information relating to any private body which can be accessed by a public authority under any other law for the time being in force. Section 8 provides for the exceptions from disclosure of information.
The records relating to the second appeals and complaints are retained for a period of six months from the date of disposal of the case. As regards the administrative/financial records of the Commission, the same is retained as per the policy from time to time.2
The Central Government has issued guidelines under Section 26 of the RTI Act. The contents of this guide are specifically relevant in relation to the Central Government but are equally applicable to the State Governments except in relation to rules about payment of fee or deciding of appeals by the information Commissions.
The Guidelines state that information can be sought in any form. This right includes inspection of work, documents and records; taking notes, extracts or certified copies of documents or records; and taking certified samples of material held by the public authority or held under the control of the public authority. The Act gives the citizens a right to information at par with the Members of Parliament and the Members of State Legislatures.
The records need be retained as per the record retention schedule applicable to the concerned public authority. Information generated in a file may survive in the form of an OM or a letter or in any other form even after destruction of the file record. Section 8(3) of the Act requires furnishing of information so available after the lapse of 20 years even if such information was exempt from disclosure under subsection(1) of Section 8.
Part II of the Guidelines impose obligations upon the public officials to maintain proper records of the information. It also provides for the publication of information in order to make it available to the public, and for publication of facts about policies and decisions
The Government has issued Notification No. 1/6/2011-IR, dated 15/04/2013 for “Implementation of suo motu disclosure under Section 4 of RTI Act, 2005 - Issue of guidelines regarding.” The Notification has issued Guidelines for digital publication of proactive disclosure under Section 4. The Guidelines prescribe that information and data should be presented in open data formats whereby it can be pulled by different Application Protocol Interfaces to be used in different fashions more appropriate to specific contexts and needs. Information/ data can, for instance, be presented in powerful visual ways using visualisation techniques.
The Notification also lays down Guidelines for certain clauses of Section 4(1)(b) to make disclosure more effective and Guidelines for Section 4(1)(b)(xiv) – details in respect of information, available to or held by it, reduced in an electronic form. The Government has actively digitized data, and these data about records that have been digitized may be proactively disclosed on the respective websites, excluding those records /files /information that are exempted under Section 8. It also lays down the disclosure of file notes, ACRs, personal information, third party information etc.
The Government has issued Notification no. 10/20/2006-IR, dated 21/09/2007 for the “Disclosure of Annual Confidential Reports under the RTI Act, 2005” and Notification no. 1/14/2007-IR, dated 31/10/2007 for “Disclosure of Information relating to occurrence/event/matter which took place 20 years back”, Notification No.1/20/2009-IR, dated 23/06/2009 for “Clarification on disclosure of file noting under the Right to Information Act, 2005”, Notification no. 8/2/2010-IR, dated 27/04/2010 for “Disclosure of third party information under the RTI Act, 2005”, Notification no. 11/2/2013-IR (Pt.) dated 14/08/2013 for “Disclosure of personal information under the RTI Act, 2005.