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  • 12 February 2014

    CIC Orders Six Parties to Comply With RTI Act

    India’s Central Information Commission Feb. 7 asked the six national parties to explain what they have done to fulfill a June 2013 CIC for them to comply with the Right to Information Act. The Commission asked the parties to provide details of their actions within four weeks, according to media reports such as one in […]

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  • 18 December 2013

    Indian Panel Advances Bill to Exempt Political Parties

    A committee of the Indian Parliament Dec. 17 recommended that political parties be exempted from the Right to Information Act. One member dissented as the six major political parties followed through on their plans to overturn the June ruling of the Central Information Commission (CIC) that political parties are covered by the RTI act as “public […]

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Read more news….

freedom of information

Text from the Global Survey: Freedom of Information and Access to Government Records Around the World, by David Banisar (updated July 2006)

The Supreme Court ruled in 1975 that access to government information was an essential part of the fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression.(1) The Court ruled in 2002 that voters have a right to know information about candidates for elected offices and ordered the Election Commission to make candidates publish information about criminal records, assets, liabilities and educational qualifications.(2)

The Right to Information Act was approved by the Parliament in May 2005 and signed by the President in June 2005.(3) Certain preliminary clauses went into effect immediately, but the entire Act came into force in October 2005. The Act replaces the Freedom of Information Act, 2002 which was adopted in January 2003 but never came into force.(4)

Under the national Act, all Indian citizens have a right to ask to ask for information not only from Central Government public authorities, but also from public authorities under the jurisdiction of the states. This includes local level bodies (called panchayats). The Act covers all public authorities set up by the Constitution or statute, as well as bodies controlled or substantially financed by the Government or non-government organizations which are substantially funded by the Government. Citizens can not only request to inspect or copy information, but the Act also allows them to make an application to inspect public works and take samples.

Applications must be submitted to a Public Information Officer (PIO) who must be appointed in every unit of a public authority. Applications may also be sent to an Assistant PIO, who should be appointed at local levels, who will forward the request to the relevant PIO. The PIO must respond in writing within thirty days or if the request concerns the life or liberty of a person, within 48 hours.

The Act includes a list of exemptions, although they are all subject to a blanket override whereby information may be released if the public interest in disclosure outweighs the harm to the protected interest. Exemptions cover disclosures that would prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security, strategic or economic interests of the State, relations with foreign States, would lead to incitement of an offence, has been expressly forbidden to be published by a court or tribunal, could constitute a contempt of court; would endanger the life or safety of a person or identify a source used by law enforcement bodies, would impede an investigation or apprehension or prosecution of an offender, would cause a breach of parliamentary privilege; Cabinet papers (although materials relied upon must be released after decisions are made), commercial confidence information, trade secrets or intellectual property where disclosure would harm the competitive position of a third party, information available due to a fiduciary relationship, information obtained in confidence from a foreign government and personal information which has no relationship to any public activity or which would cause an unwarranted invasion of privacy.

An internal appeal can be made against decisions to a nominated person who is senior in rank to the PIO. A second appeal can be made to newly established Information Commissions at the Central and State levels or alternatively, a complaint can be made directly to these Commissions. Information Commissions have a broad remit to hear cases related to any matter relating to access under the Act. They have investigative powers and can make binding decisions. Information Commissions can make any order necessary to ensure compliance with the Act (including requiring a public authority to publish information, appoint PIOs, produce annual reports and make changes to record management), and can also order compensation and impose penalties.

The Act attempts to bar appeals to the courts, but as the right to information is a constitutional right, it would appear that citizens still have the right to go to the High Court or Supreme Court if they feel their right has been infringed.

Fines and disciplinary proceedings can be ordered for a range of offences, including refusing to access an application, delaying providing information (for which a daily penalty can be imposed), provision of false, misleading or incomplete information and obstruction of information officials.

The Act also imposes duties to monitor and promote the law. All public authorities must proactive publish and disseminate a very wide range of information, including details of the services they provide, their organizational structure, their decision-making norms and rules, opportunities for public consultation, recipients of government subsidies, licences, concessions, or permits, categories of information held, and contact details of PIOs. Public authorities must also maintain indexes of all records and over time computerize and network their records. Information Commissions must monitor implementation and produce annual reports. To the extent that resources are available, Governments must also provide training for officials and conduct public education activities, including publishing a User’s Guide.

Implementation of the Right to Information Act has been varied across the country. The Central Government, which sponsored the Act, has been relatively active, although it was slow in putting in place systems, in ensuring fulsome proactive disclosure and in setting up the Central Information Commission. To date, more than 20 states have appointed Information Commissioners, although actually setting up and providing adequate resources to the Information Commission offices has often been slow. Applications are being made throughout the country, with varying levels of success. It has been reported that local panchayat officials have been particularly slow in coming to terms with their duties under the new law.

Although the Official Secrets Act, 1923, which is based on the 1911 UK OSA, has not been repealed, the Right to Information Act specifically states that its provisions will have effect notwithstanding anything inconsistent in the OSA or any other law.(5) The OSA prohibits the unauthorized collection or disclosure of secret information and is frequently used against the media.(6)

The Public Records Act, 1993 sets a thirty year rule for access to archives.(7) The Right to Information Act specifically states that information shall be provided under the Act after 20 years, but it then specifies that certain exemptions will still apply beyond this period.

At the time the national Right to Information Act was passed, eight states and one territory had passed their own access laws, largely in response to pressure from local activists fighting corruption. Acts were passed in Tamil Nadu, (1997) Goa (1997), Rajasthan (2000), Karnataka (2000), Delhi (2001), Maharashtra (2002), Assam (2003), Madhya Pradesh (2003) and Jammu & Kashmir (2004). Uttar Pradesh and Chattisgarh also adopted Codes of Practice and Executive Orders on Access to Information.(8) With the passage of the national Act, the state laws are either lapsing or being specifically repealed. However, the Jammu and Kashmir Act will continue to operate in respect of state public authorities, because the Central Government cannot legislate for Jammu and Kashmir due to its special constitutional status.

2004 Global Survey Results – India

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News Archive

  • 14 October 2013

    Eighth Anniversary Prompts Reflections on Indian RTI Act

    The eighth anniversary of India’s Right to Information Act was observed with a mixture of frustration and celebration. Unquestionably, the 2005 sunshine law is being used, with an estimated 4 million people using the Act during 2011-12, the latest year for which all-India data is available, according to a report by the Commonwealth Human Rights […]

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  • 8 October 2013

    Indian Supreme Court Rules in Case Impacting RTI

    The Indian Supreme Court ruled Oct. 3 in case that may have implications for which nongovernmental organizations are “substantially financed’ by public funds and are thus covered by the Right to Information Act, Although analysts are just beginning to sort through the ruling, there are indications it might reduce coverage of the RTI Act and […]

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  • 16 September 2013

    Court Nullifies Appointment of Four AP Commissioners

    An Indian High Court Sept. 15 voided the appointment of four information commissioners in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. Chief Justice Kalyan Jyothi Sen Gupta and Justice K.C. Bhanu ruled in a case filed by civil society activists K. Padmanabhaiah, Rao, V.B.J. Chelikani and N. Padmanabha Reddy. The petitioners challenged the appointment Feb. 6 […]

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  • 5 September 2013

    Indian Court Reverses Qualifications Decision

    The Indian Supreme Court Sept. 3 retracted most of its controversial ruling seeking to dictate the qualifications for membership on information commissions. The court had ruled that only retired judges or those having legal training could be appointed as information commissioners at the Central Information Commission and at the state level. Justices A.K. Patnaik and […]

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  • 5 September 2013

    Indian RTI Amendments Referred to Committee

    Legislation to exempt the political parties from coverage under the Indian Right to Information Act on Sept. 5 referred to a parliamentary standing committee for further consideration.   “The government has decided that there should be more discussion on this Bill. We will bring this Bill in Parliament in the Winter Session,” said V Narayanasamy, […]

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  • 27 August 2013

    Indian Parliamentary Panel to Review RTI Amendment

    A committee of the Indian Parliament will review proposed amendments to exempt political parties from the Right to Information Act. Getting committee consideration was a key demand of opponents of the bill, which is supported by all the major parties. “I have written to Speaker Lok Sabha (Meira Kumar) to refer the RTI Bill to […]

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  • 27 August 2013

    India Expands Scope of Online Request Portal

    India on Aug. 21 made possible the online filing of right to information requests in applications in all central ministries and departments. Previously the portal was available only for 40 ministries, departments and commissions. The government launched the portal earlier this year. “The portal will now be open to entertain questions under the RTI Act […]

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  • 13 August 2013

    Indian Government Offers Bill to Exempt Parties from RTI

    Legislation was introduced Aug. 12 in the Indian lower house of parliament (Lok Sabha) by the United Progressive Alliance to exempt political parties from the Right to Information Act. The bill would a June 3, 2013, order of the Central Information Commission deeming India’s six national political parties to be “public authorities” under the RTI […]

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  • 2 August 2013

    Indian Cabinet Approves Bill to Exempt Parties from RTI

    The Indian Cabinet Aug. 1 approved proposed amendments to the Right to Information Act to nullify an order of the Central Information Commission making the six national political parties subject to the RTI law. The draft amendments are expected to be introduced in the monsoon session of Parliament beginning on Aug. 5. The consensus among […]

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  • 31 July 2013

    Colonial Mindset Visible in RTI Responses

    By Raja Muzaffar Bhat The author is an RTI / Social activist and the founder of J&K RTI movement. Reach him at  This article was originally published July 30 in Greater Kashmir. Background From the last nearly eight years I have been drafting applications under Right to Information Act (RTI) to seek information  from different […]

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  • 29 July 2013

    Indian Committee Says RTI Should Cover Cricket Board

    A special Indian committee constituted by the government has recommended that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) should be covered by the Right to Information Act if it wants to field the “Indian” cricket team. Retired Justice Mukul Mudgal, the chairman of a committee constituted to draft the Sports Development Bill 2013, […]

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  • 26 July 2013

    Court Blocks CIC Hearing About Indian Cricket Board

    A court order caused the Indian Central Information Commission to cancel a July 25 hearing on whether the Board of Control for Cricket in India should be declared a public authority subject to the Right to Information Act. The Madras High Court issued the order, according to a report by NDTV and another by ESPN. […]

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  • 24 July 2013

    Indian RTI Supporters Object to Planned Amendments

    A group of eminent citizens has objected to plans by the six major political parties to pass legislation exempting themselves from the Right to Information Act. A joint letter noted that the parties have not gone to court to challenge the June order of the Central Information Commission, but instead are making plans for a […]

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  • 24 July 2013

    Indian RTI activist Ends Hunger Strike in Goa

    Indian RTI activist Rajan Ghate on July 22 ended his six day hunger strike following assurances from Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar over the appointment of state information commissioners. Ghate started his strike to demand that the state government appoint a Chief Information Commissioner as well as State Information Commissioners, posts unfilled for more than […]

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  • 19 July 2013

    Indian Activist on Hunger Strike in State of Goa

    An Indian right to information activist, Rajan Ghate, began a hunger strike July 16 to protest the failure to appoint a chief information commissioner and other commissioners in the state of Goa. Ghate received support July 18 from Vivek Velankar, a Maharashtra RTI activist, who visited him at Azad Maidan, according to an article in […]

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  • 16 July 2013

    Deadline Passes, Indian Parties Resist Compliance

    July 15 was the deadline for six Indian political parties to appoint information officers and begin complying with the right to information, but they have not, according to Indian newspapers. The Central Information Commissioner on June 3 gave the parties six-weeks to act, but since then most of the parties have supported the idea of legislation to […]

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  • 12 July 2013

    Indian Sports Ministry Seeks to Bring Cricket Under RTI

    The Indian Sports Ministry has launched a new effort to bring the Indian cricket board (BCCI) under the Right to Information Act. The ministry’s new draft National Sports Bill says only those federations coming under RTI can represent India in international competitions. A panel headed by retired judge Mukul Mudgal drafted the bill. The BCCI, […]

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  • 10 July 2013

    Indian Gov’t Still Planning to Overturn CIC Order

    Instead of filing a court appeal, the Indian government is continuing to consider at a legislative way to overturn a June 3 Central Information Commission ruling making political parties subject to the right to information law, Indian papers continue to report. “Highly-placed sources in the Law Ministry today said that the CIC order would not be challenged by […]

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  • 10 July 2013

    Indian CIC Rejects Request by Death Row Inmate

    The Indian Central Information Commission has held that the Constitution prohibits releasing to a death row convict the reasons for denial of his mercy request. A.G. Perarivalan, a death row convict in the 1991 Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, requested the advice tendered by the Council of Ministers to the president, according to an article in […]

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  • 1 July 2013

    Indian Parties May Seek Exemption From RTI Act

    The leading political parties of India reportedly have agreed to support an amendment that would exempt them from coverage under the right to information law. The political parties appear unified in their desire to overturn a controversial early June ruling by the Central Information Commission bringing them under the purview of the RTI Act. (See […]

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  • 7 June 2013

    Most Indian Parties Upset Over RTI Purview Ruling

    Most Indian political parties have reacted negatively to the Central Information Commission ruling bringing them under the right to information law. Expecting an appeal, one of the two plaintiffs, the Association for Democratic Reforms, June 5 filed in the Delhi High Court to preempt any stay of the CIC order without an opportunity to be […]

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  • 3 June 2013

    Indian CIC Says Political Parties Covered by RTI Law

    India’s Central Information Commission June 3 ruled that political parties are covered by the Right to Information law. The Commission in a 54-page decision said the six national parties receive substantial indirect funding from the central government and perform public functions, thus making them public authorities under the law. Unless overturned by a court, the […]

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  • 16 May 2013

    Indian Government Seeks Examples of Best Practice

    The Indian government has invited “write ups” describing best practices on implementation of Right to Information Act, with prize money. The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) said it will publish a compendium of best practices on the RTI being adopted by a government department or public authority. “The best 20 write-ups would be selected […]

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  • 10 May 2013

    Critics Fault Guidelines for Proactive Disclosure in India

    The Indian government’s recent guidelines on proactive disclosure are diluted, right to information activists said May 7.  Members of the National Campaign for People’s Right to Information (NCPRI) including Anjali Bhardwaj, Nikhil Dey and Venkatesh Nayak said that the government had overlooked other recommendations from the government-sponsored task force that studied the issue. Not included were […]

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  • 3 May 2013

    India Close to Choosing Who Will Do Study of RTI Law

    The Indian government is close to choosing who will conduct a major review of the fight to information law. The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) has shortlisted 16 organizations for the “360 degree study,” according to a report, with the names, on the website of the RTI Foundation of India. The selected organizations have […]

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  • 26 April 2013

    India Issues Guidance on Doing Proactive Disclosure

    The Indian government has issued guidelines for the proactive disclosure of information, but missed a few key items, according to a leading Indian advocacy group. The guidelines were prepared the Department of Personnel and Training with advice from a task force. The goal was to enhance implementation of the proactive disclosure obligations under Section 4 of […]

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  • 21 April 2013

    Two Indian States to Issue Lists of Prisoners on Trial

    The chief information commissioner of the Indian state of Maharashtra has ordered the disclosure of the names of prisoners awaiting trial, so-called “undertrials,” who have served half or more of the maximum prison term specified for the charges they face. State chief information commissioner (CIC) Ratnakar Gaikwad directed the preparation of such a list under […]

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  • 19 April 2013

    Right to information? You are in queue!

    By Shailesh Gandhi Gandhi is a former commissioner at the central information commission. This article is reprinted with permission from GovernanceNow, where it was first run on April 17. “GovernanceNow is a multi-media initiative for participatory reportage and analyses related to governance of all institutions and processes that are vital to public life in India.” […]

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  • 17 April 2013

    Indian Court Stays Major Parts of Controversial Ruling

    The Indian Supreme Court on April 16 stayed a controversial decision ordering that retired or sitting judges be appointed to lead the Central Information Commission and state commissions. The order by Justices A. K. Patnaik and Arjan K. Sikri also stayed a directive from the Sept. 13, 2012, decision that would have required commissions to […]

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  • 12 April 2013

    Indian Department Opens Portal for RTI Applications

    A key Indian agency has opened a website for the submission of right to information requests and fees. The portal — — has been created by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), the agency which leads on the administration of the RTI law. The portal is not for use in filing requests for […]

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  • 7 March 2013

    World Bank Study Focuses on RTI Implementaton Issues

    Right to information laws “will accomplish little” in poor countries, according to the author of new World Bank study, “unless concerted efforts are made to address the broader enabling environment, and appropriate capacity building strategies are devised.”   The report by Anupama Dokeniya is based on individual research studies of implementation in eight countries: Albania, […]

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  • 18 February 2013

    Indian Women Not Using RTI Act Enough, Activists Say

    Women in India are not using the Right to Information Act as much as they should, according to persons quoted in an article on the subject by Partha Sarathi Biswas in the Indian Express. One indicator cited is the low registration in training classes sponsored by Yashwantrao Chavan Academy of Development Administration (YASHDA). Former Central […]

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  • 4 February 2013

    Court Tells Indian State to Pick Info Commissioners

    The high court of the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh has ordered the government to seek applications in order to fill the 10 vacant posts of the State Information Commission, according to articles in the Daily Pioneer and the Jagran Post. Most of the positions have been vacant since August of 2010, resulting in a […]

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  • 1 February 2013

    Indian Court Denies State Commission Right to Appeal

    The Indian Supreme Court on Jan. 18 rejected as “frivolous” a petition from the Karnataka information commissioner challenging a Karnataka High Court order that overturning the commissioner’s decision, according to an article in The Deccan Herald. The order has “serious implications” for the RTI Act, wrote Shailesh Gandhi, who  served as Central Information Commissioner from […]

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  • 14 December 2012

    Indian Commission Rules Attorney General Exempt

    India’s Central Information Commission has ruled that the Office of the Attorney is not a public authority under Right to Information Act. The CIC order of Dec. 10 said the Attorney General’s position is unique because “he is standalone counsel of the Government of India.” “He renders legal advice to the Government of India which […]

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  • 6 December 2012

    No Support Discovered for Indian PM’s Views on RTI

    The Times of India asked the office of the prime minister to disclose the basis for PM Manmohan Singh’s October criticisms of the Right to Information Act, but has been told there are no such records, according to an article in the Times. Singh expressed concern over frivolous and vexatious RTI applications, infringement of personal […]

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  • 26 November 2012

    Indian Supreme Court to Review RTI Act Decision

    The Indian Supreme Court on Nov. 20 agreed to hear the government’s request that it review its Sept. 13 decision that among other things would require that information commissions be composed of retired judges. (See previous report.) In agreeing to the review,  justices A.K. Patnaik and Swatanter Kumar, “made it clear that its verdict […]

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  • 6 November 2012

    Indian CIC Orders Agency to Disclose Corruption Files

    India’s chief information commissioner, Satyendra Mishra, has ruled that even an agency exempt from the right to information law may not withhold information related to corruption by public officials or human rights violations. In his Nov. 2 order, Mishra mandated the Central Bureau of Information to provide requested information, subject to RTI Act exemptions, according […]

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  • 2 November 2012

    Indian Cabinet Withdraws Controversial RTI Proposal

    The Indian Cabinet Nov. 1 pulled back from a six-year-old proposal to dilute the Right to Information Act. The action was a relief to activists.  The main effect of the changes, planned back in 2006, would have been to restrict access to “file notings” – documents in which officials make comments about proposed policies. Withdrawing […]

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  • 29 October 2012

    Making Government Kiosks Hubs for RTI

    By Osama Manzar Osama Manzar is founder-director of Digital Empowerment Foundation and chairman of the Manthan Award. He is a member of the working group for Internet proliferation and governance, ministry of communications and information technology. Follow him on Twitter @osamamanzar. There is only one way India can become a leading country in the 21st […]

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  • 15 October 2012

    Indian RTI Activists Object to PM’s Comments; Bill Planned

    Indian right to information activists have roundly condemned Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s recent criticisms of the RTI law, but one major media outlet reports that the government is preparing amendments to change the law to prevent alleged misuse. “A senior bureaucrat” told The Times of India Oct 13 that amendments are in the works.  ”After […]

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  • 12 October 2012

    Indian Government Appeals Controversial Court Ruling

    The Indian government has appealed a controversial Supreme Court ruling that that has roiled Indian information commissions by mandating more involvement of trained judges in the process. The announcement came Oct. 11, preceding an Oct. 12 speech by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the seventh anniversary of the RTI act at seventh Convention of Central […]

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  • 11 October 2012

    Indian CIC Orders Delhi to Enhance Assembly Info

    The Central Information Commission has ordered the Delhi assembly to provide more information about its proceedings. Information Commissioner Annapurna Dixit directed the assembly secretariat to publish laws that pass on its website in Hindi and English and to consider providing live webcasts of assembly proceedings, according to reports in the Times of India and the Hindustan […]

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  • 1 October 2012

    Ruling Sows Confusion Among Indian Commissions

    More than a quarter of India’s 28 Information Commissions have halted work in the aftermath of the top court’s recent ruling that retired judges must be on commission panels, according to a survey by the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative. The Central Information Commission continues to hear cases as before, CHRI said. “However the State Information […]

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  • 14 September 2012

    Indian Court Says Judges Must Head Commissions

    The Supreme Court of India has ordered that all Chief Information Commissioners must be retired judges and that each case must be heard by a two-member bench, with one judicial member and one non-judicial member. The Central Information Commission (CIC), the final appellate authority for RTI Act, suspended hearings on Sept. 14, held an urgent […]

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  • 7 September 2012

    Jammu and Kashmir Moves Seen as Undercutting RTI

    The Jammu and Kashmir government in India on Aug. 30 passed new rules that critics say undercut the state right to information act. One main effect will be to reduce the information commission’s ability to require information from government departments, according to an article by Riyaz Wani in Tehelka. Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said this […]

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  • 31 August 2012

    India to Promote RTI In Message to Children

    The Indian government has decided to promote the Right to Information Act to school children. A message will be displayed inside the back cover of some textbooks, according to direction from the National Council of Education, Research and Training. An estimated 10 million children will read: “The basic aim of the RTI Act is to […]

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  • 13 August 2012

    Word Limit Imposed on Indian RTI Requesters

    The Indian government has placed a limit of 500 words on the length of applications under the Right to Information Act and has established a new form for making appeals to the Central Information Commission. The new rule, issued July 31 by the Department of Personnel and Training, also requires that appellants or their representative […]

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  • 8 August 2012

    Roy Objects to Proposals to Amend State RTI Law

    RTI activist and National Advisory Council (NAC) member Aruna Roy has written to the chief minister of the state of Maharashtra, Prithviraj Chavan, to protest proposed amendments to the RTI law. The state government in January proposed that applications being limited to a single subject and be less that 150 words. Alos applicants inspecting documents […]

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  • 3 August 2012

    Indian State Exempts Anti-Corruption Agency From RTIA

    The government of the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh Cabinet voted on July 31 to exclude the anticorruption agency Lokayukta from the scope of the Right to Information Act, according to Indian activists and media reports. “This is one of the many attacks being launched against the transparency regime by the very system which the […]

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  • 6 July 2012

    Roy Positive on Indian RTI Law, But Sees Challenges

    The Indian Right to Information Act “is a galvanizing force that has acquired a momentum that none of us saw coming, and which is going to be impossible to stop,” according to Aruna Roy, an instrumental force behind the law’s passage, who also outlined problems facing the law in a newspaper interview. “What we are […]

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  • 6 July 2012

    Are Qualified Commissioners Being Appointed in India?

    By Shonali Ghosal Ghosal is a correspondent with Tehelka where this article first appeared. Last month, on 9 June, Ratnakar Gaikwad, former chief secretary, Maharashtra, was sworn in as the state’s Chief Information Commissioner (CIC). Curiously, his appointment came just over a week after his retirement as chief secretary. This, after the post of CIC […]

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  • 2 July 2012

    Retiring Indian Commissioner Ghandi Says RTI Threatened

    Shailesh Ghandhi, who will retire June 6 as an Indian Information Commissioner, is warning of threats facing the right to information law. In an interview with  CNN IBN, Gandhi said, “I believe that so far the RTI Act has achieved far more than expected but there are serious threats most of us are not conscious […]

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  • 29 June 2012

    Indian CIC Elaborates on Access to Cabinet Papers

    India’s Central Information Commission has ruled that Cabinet documents should be disclosed after a bill had been offered in Parliament and that requesters do not need to wait until after Parliament acts. The Commission ordered the Department of Atomic Energy to produce the Cabinet note, papers and file notings relating to the Nuclear Safety Regulatory […]

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  • 21 June 2012

    Indian Court Says Presidential Donations Covered by RTI

    Donations made by the Indian president using public funds are covered by the Indian right to information law, the Delhi High Court held May 14. The court directed the President’s Secretariat to provide the information, rejecting objections that it would impinge on the president’s privacy. The court also ordered that the donations information be published online. […]

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  • 1 June 2012

    Indian Sports Minister Asks CIC to Open Cricket Board

    Indian Sports Minister Ajay Maken has taken his campaign to bring the Indian Cricket Board (BCCI) under the purview of the Right to Information Act to the Central Information Commission, according to media reports. “We have appealed to the CIC,” he told reporters May 31, according to The Times of India and The Hindu. It is not […]

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  • 21 May 2012

    India Makes Plans to Set Up RTI Call Center, Request Site

    The Indian government has requested proposals to establish a call center and web portal to allow citizens to make right to information requests by telephone and online. The Department of Personnel and Training May 14 sought requests from IT firms and call centers, according to media reports such as one in the Hindustan Times. The […]

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  • 10 May 2012

    Retired Officials Dominate Indian State Commissions

    Most Indian state information commissioners are retired civil servants and many posts are vacant, according to fact-filled critical report by the Access to Information Programme of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, based in New Delhi. Also, less than half of the commissions have put some or all of their decisions online and their websites are […]

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  • 27 April 2012

    India’s CIC Clashes With Justice Over Use of RTI

    India’s Chief Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi has written to the Chief Justice of India, S.H. Kapadia, to object to his recent comments critical of the right to information law. The chief justice was quoted as saying the law was “good” but was being misused to ask irrelevant and intrusive questions.  In his reply, Gandhi said: […]

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  • 27 April 2012

    Indian State Commission Pulls Bank Under RTI Law

    An Indian State Information Commission April 24 ruled that the Jammu and Kashmir Bank Limited is a public authority under the 2009 Jammu and Kashmir Right to Information Act. The bank was created by legislative act, is majority-owned by the government, has three government-appointed directors, and carries out instructions from the government, according to the […]

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  • 12 March 2012

    Reform Eases RTI Use by Indians Living Abroad

    India has made it easier for Indian citizens living abroad to seek online information from the government under the Right to Information Act. The banking regulator, the Reserve Bank of India, has allowed sale of electronic postal orders to Indian citizens living abroad through their credit and debit cards. “The facility will be used only […]

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  • 9 March 2012

    RTI Exemption Included in Indian Biotech Bill

    A controversial bill in India to ease regulation on biotechnology products includes an exemption from the right to information law. Debate over the Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India Bill (BRAI) primarily concerns issues such as the safety of genetically modified food crops, the proposed RTI exemption also is drawing opposition, including from the National Campaign […]

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  • 2 March 2012

    Three New Commissioners Appointed to CIC in India

     Three new information commissioners were sworn in on Feb. 28 in New Delhi.  Former Intelligence Bureau (IB) chief Rajiv Mathur is one of the new commissioners. Also added were the former environment secretary Vijai Sharma, recently working as an expert member at the National Green Tribunal and retired Syndicate Bank chairman and managing director Basant […]

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  • 23 February 2012

    Indian Health Foundation Told to Comply With RTI

    India’s Central Information Commission has ruled that the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) had falls under the Right to Information Act, using the decision to underscore its position that other public-private partnerships are also covered, a contentious issue. Commissioner Shailesh Ghandi, who wrote the opinion, directed the chairman of PHFI to appoint a Public […]

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  • 22 February 2012

    Indian Committee Displeased With Nuclear RTI Exemption

    A proposed Right to Information law exemption in a new Indian nuclear safety bill appears to be faring poorly in Parliament. A committee looking into the Nuclear Safety Regulatory Authority bill is likely to propose dropping the RTI provision, according to reports in The Hindustan Times and India Today. The government-backed bill would create a […]

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  • 17 February 2012

    Indian CIC Orders Agency to Post More on Website

    The Indian Central Information Commission has told the Ministry of Environment & Forests to put more information on its website. The Jan. 18 decision by Commissioner Sailesh Gandhi resulted from a complaint brought by Shibani Ghosh of The Access Initiative India Coalition (TAI India) arguing that certain categories of information should be available on the […]

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  • 16 February 2012

    RTI Implementation: Comparing Experiences in Southeast Asia

    By Chiranjibi Kafle The writer is Head, Department of English, RR Campus, Kathmandu. This article was originally published in Republica and is reprinted with permission. More than 90 countries in the world today have introduced Right to Information (RTI) legislations to safeguard people´s access to public information. But the implementation part has not been smooth. […]

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  • 10 February 2012

    Political Appointments in Indian State Stir Objection

    The appointment of eight information commissioners in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh has sparked objections that they are unqualified. Four of the announced commissioners are politicians in the ruling Congress party. The others include three retired or current civil servants and a senior journalist with party ties, according to media summaries. One media report, in India […]

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  • 6 February 2012

    State Actions Undermine Right to Information in India

    Some Indian states are making it harder for applicants to use the Right to Information law, according to a series of recent news reports. To the distress of RTI activists, states are: -           imposing higher fees, -           requiring statements of justification for requests, -          asking that photographs accompany applications, and -          making appeals administratively slower. […]

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  • 3 February 2012

    India Proposes RTI Act Exemption on Nuclear Safety

    The government of India has proposed to amend the Right to Information Act to exclude from coverage any nuclear safety agencies created in the future. The government introduced the Nuclear Safety Regulatory Authority Bill (NSRA Bill) in September 2011, but its RTI impact has just been highlighted by RTI activists. The bill seeks to add […]

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  • 19 January 2012

    Indian Commission to List Pending Cases on Website

    The Indian Central Information Commission has started making public on its website a list of pending cases. The new feature, at the top of left column, began Jan. 9 and will be updated monthly. Shailesh Gandhi, one of the five central information commissioners, said this will “reassure citizens that there is fairness in taking up […]

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  • 22 December 2011

    Indian Sports Ministry Says RTI Covers Cricket Board

    The Indian Sports Ministry has asserted that the right to information law covers Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), according to a Times of India report. The ministry submitted a seven-page statement Dec. 16 to the Central Information Commission, saying that the cricket board receives “substantial indirect funding” from the government in the […]

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  • 20 December 2011

    What’s Ailing RTI? Resource Issues Plague Indian Law

    By Shonali Ghosal Ghosal is a correspondent with Tehelka magazine, based in New Delhi, which published this article in its Dec. 24 edition. Following is an interview with Shailesh Gandhi, a Central Information Commissioner. (Reprinted with permission.) The mere suggestion of any amendment to the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005, sends civil society into […]

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  • 5 December 2011

    U.S. Unveils Open Source Code for Open Gov Sites

    The U.S. government Dec. 5 unveiled “open source code” designed to help governments manage data and ultimately create more open government  platforms around the world. The development grew from an U.S.-India collaboration and a next step, according to the White House blog post, will be an Indian announcement concerning software for an Open Government Platform […]

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  • 18 October 2011

    Indian Law Minister Denies Plans to Rewrite RTI Act

    A top Indian minister has denied that the government wants to rewrite the right to information law, apparently seeking to quell a firestorm of criticisms precipitated by the prime minister’s call for a “critical look” at the RTI Act. Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid Oct. 16 said there is no proposal to “relook” at the […]

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  • 14 October 2011

    Indian Prime Minister Urges Critical Look at RTI Act

    Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Oct. 14 called for a “critical look” at the six-year-old Right to Information Act. He expressed concern about a “flood” of requests, about disclosure inhibiting the deliberations of government officials, and about the coverage of private-public partnerships. Singh’s comments before the annual convention of Information Commissioners were quickly criticized as […]

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  • 12 October 2011

    Indian CIC Takes Steps to Stem Attacks on RTI Users

    The Indian Central Information Commission has adopted a potential deterrent to attacks on users of the right to information law. The CIC announced it will react to assaults on RTI activists by pressing government agencies to promptly release all the requested materials. The Commission also said it will keep track of investigations into attacks. Estimates […]

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  • 12 September 2011

    Indian Court Upholds Exclusion of CBI from RTI

    An Indian court has upheld with the government’s decision to exempt the Central Bureau of Investigation, a security and intelligence agency, from coverage under the right to information law. The Madras high court Sept. 9 became the first in the country to rule on one of several legal challenges to the decision, according to media […]

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  • 2 September 2011

    India Law Needs to Protect RTI Activists, Group Says

    The Asian Centre for Human Rights has issued a report, “RTI activists: sitting ducks of India,” stated that from January 2010 to August 2011, at least 12 right to information activists including have been murdered and recommending an amendment to the RTI Act. “RTI activists are the most vulnerable human rights defenders (HRDs) of India. […]

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  • 31 August 2011

    Indian Cabinet Rejects Controversial Sports Bill

    The Indian Cabinet Aug. 30 rejected a proposal to regulate national sports federations that included a provision to bring them under the right to information law. (See previous report.) The disapproval was overwhelming according to news reports, but the sports minister later vowed to try again.  The sports minister said any revised draft legislation […]

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