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Empower the People of West Bengal for Ethnic Rights (EmPOWER) Using RTI Act 2005


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Empower The People Of West Bengal For Ethnic Rights (EmPOWER) Using RTI Act 2005

The Right to Information Bill, 2005 was passed by the Lok Sabha on 11th May, 2005 and by the Rajya Sabha on 12th May, 2005 and received the Presidential assent on 15th June, 2005. It came on the Statute Book as THE RIGHT TO INFORMATION ACT, 2005 (22 OF 2005). It remains a potent legal weapon to fight opacity in public offices. Frredom of information has many benefits. It facilitates public participation in public affairs by providing access to relevant information to the people who are then empowered to make informed choices and better exercise their democratic rights. It enhances the accountability of Government, improves decision-making, provides better information of elected representatives, enhances Government credibility with its citizens, and provides a powerfull aid in the fight against corruption.

Right to Information mean right to obtain information that is held by any public authority or is under the control of same. Any citizen can obtain information under this law. A citizen now can inspect the work, documents or records held by the public authority or even by the private authority which is under the control of public authority. A citizen can take notes, extracts or certified copies of records and documents. Information can also be obtained in form of diskettes, floppies or any other electronic mode.

Information can be asked for in relation to the Government functioning like copies of contracts of various Government functioning like copies of contracts of various Government works, copies of bills and vouchers, status of any application filed with the Government, status of various grievances or corruption cases pending, attendance register of gardeners or sweepers in an area, log book of vehicles used by various Government functionaries, list of works carried out by M.L.A. and M.P., obtain sample of material of any Government work, documents related to various policies and budgets of the Government, etc.

The fee for an RTI application to a central government authority is Rs 10, to be paid through demand draft or cheque or by IPO(Indian Postal Order). In West Bengal an applicant can also use Rs. 10 Court Fee Stamp as RTI Fee to the state government departments. The charge for providing the information is Rs 2 for each page created/copied, actual charge of a larger size paper copy, actual cost for samples and, for inspection of records, no fee for the first hour, Rs 5 for each 15 minutes, thereafter. To provide information under Section 7(5) of the Act, it will charge Rs 50 per diskette or floppy. For information provided in printed form at the price fixed for such publication or Rs 2 per page of photocopy for extracts from the publication. No such fee is chargeable from citizens below poverty line or if the information is provided after prescribed period. Information sought from the Public Information Officers has ordinarily to be provided or refused within 30 days. Information regarding the life or liberty of an individual has to be provided within 48 hours.

In Rights and Governance program, MUKTI has been operating Right to Information project funded by AID since 2011-2012 covering grassroots people in Nagendrapur, Kankandighi, Ramganga and Laxmijanardanpur GP Area of Mathurapur-II Block in South 24 Parganas, West Bengal, India. Mukti has long years of experience in implementing RTI Act by adroitly targeting stakeholders, identifying and strengthening needs, finalizing strategies and facilitating engagement of civil society for protecting information right of the grassroots. It has outstanding expertise in developing democratic institutions and capacity building for inclusion of multiple social groups in decision-making process, empowering people for protecting rule of law. It has also the expertise in facilitating advocacy for human rights-sensitive good governance and legal reforms, public awareness building on the national and international legal framework, and capacity-building for institutional reforms. Since long MUKTI has been strengthening civil society organizations for fighting corruption by shaping anti-corruption measures of information sharing and monitoring governments’ use of public funds and implementation policies.

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