Guide For The Public Authority
Information Exempted From Disclosure
Sub-section (1) of section 8 and section 9 of the Act enumerate the types of information which is exempt from disclosure. Sub-Section (2) of section8, however, provides that information exempted under sub-section (1) or exempted under the Official Secrets Act, 1923 can be discloses if public interest in disclosure overweighs the harm to the protected interest. Further, sub-section (3) of section 8 provides that information exempt from disclosure under sub- section (1), exempted as provided in clauses (a), (c) and (i) thereof, would cease to be exempted after 20 years from the date of occurrence of the related event etc.
It may be noted that section 8(3) of the Act does not require the public authorities to retain records for indefinite periods. The records should be retained as per the record retention schedule applicable to the form of an OM or a letter or in any other from even after destruction of the file/record. The Act requires furnishing of information so available after the lapse of 20 tears even if such information was exempt from disclosure under sub-section (1) of Section8. It means that the information `which, in normal course, is exempt from disclosure under sub-section (1) of Section 8 of the Act, would cease to be exempted if 20 years have lapsed after occurrence of the incident to which the information relates. However, the following types of information would continue to be exempt and there would be no obligation, even after lapse of 230 years, to give any
- information disclosure of which would prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security, strategic, scientific or economic interest of the State, relation with foreign state or lead to incitement of an offence;
- information the disclosure of which would case a breach of privilege of parliament or State Legislature; or
- cabinet papers including records of deliberation of the Council of Ministers, Secretaries and other Officers subject to the conditions given in proviso to clause (I) sub-section (1) of Section 8 of the Act,
Timely Supply of Information
The Act requires that except in some special circumstances, decision on an application for information should be given within 30 days of the receipt of the request. Where the information sought for concerns the life or liberty of a person, the same should be provided within forty-eight hours of the receipt of the request. If the decision on the request for information is not given within the prescribed period. It is deemed that the request has been refused. If is pertinent to note that if a public authority fails to comply with the specified time limit, the information to the concerned applicant would have to be provided free of charge.
Right Information Vis-a-vis other Acts
The RTI Act has over-riding effect vis-a-vis other laws in as much as the provisions of the RTI Act would have effect notwithstanding anything inconsistent therewith contained in the Official Secrets Act, 1923, and any other law for the time being in force or in any instrument having effect by virtue of any law other than the RTI Act.
Maintenance and Computerisation of Records
Proper management of records is of utmost importance for effective implementation of the provisions of the Act. A public authority should, therefore, maintain all its records properly. It should ensure that the records are duly catalogued and indexed in such a manner and from that it may facilitate the right to information.
The public authority should computerize all its records which are appropriate to be computerized, Record so computerized should be connected though a network on different systems so that access to such records is facilitated.