Many Public Information Officers are on the misconception and very wrong premise that they can delay for 30 days furnishing of information sought under the Right to Information Act.
Section 7 of the RTI Act mandates that the Public Information Officer on receipt of a request shall, as expeditiously as possible, and in any case within thirty days of the receipt of the request shall provide the information.
So the intent of the law was to furnish information available expeditiously. That outer limit of 30 days is if information has to be sourced from other departments or if it is voluminous and has to be collated.
So every Public Information Officer trying to drag on till the 30th day to comply with the mandatory duty is acting in breach of law and the very intent of the RTI Act which was enacted to ensure transparency and accountability in the functioning of any department.
The RTI Act has been hailed as the hallmark of our democracy. The Act aims at making the government transparent and more accountable. The effective use of it would, in the long run, curbs corruption. It has become a powerful tool in exposing corruption at top places in the government.
The basic object of the Act is to empower the citizens, promote transparency and accountability in the working of the Government, to contain corruption, and make our democracy work for the people in a real sense. It goes without saying that an informed citizen is better equipped to deal with issues and play a role in the affairs of the state and country.
The 37th President of the United States of America Mr. Richard Nixon had in 1972 very rightly said "When information which properly belongs to the public is systematically withheld by those in power, the people soon become ignorant of their own affairs, distrustful of those who manage them, and - eventually - incapable of determining their own destinies."
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