‘The Right To Information Act, 2005’ enacted by the Government of India is for the citizens of India to secure access to information under the control of public authorities, in order to promote transparency and accountability in the working of public authority.
The Right to Information Act received President’s assent on 15th June 2005. The provisions of sub sections (1) of Section 4, sub-sections (1) and (2) of Section 5, sections 12, 13, 15, 16, 24, 27 and 28 came into force at the very instant while the remaining portions came into effect from October 13, 2005. The Right to Information Act (The Act) is applicable to the whole of India except the State of Jammu & Kashmir.
The Right To Information includes an access to the information which is held by or under the control of any public authority and includes the right to inspect the work, document, records, taking notes, extracts or certified copies of documents / records and certified samples of the materials and obtaining information which is also stored in electronic form. All Public Sector Banks being constituted by an Act of Parliament are "Public Authorities".
The Act provides for appointment of a Chief Public Information officer to deal with requests for information. Public Information Officers are also to be designated in all Administrative Units or Offices.
The Act provides under Sections 8 and 9, certain categories of information that are exempt from disclosure to the citizens.
Section 8 (1) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, there shall be no obligation to give any citizen:
a. information, disclosure of which would prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security, strategic, scientific or economic interests of the State, relation with foreign State or lead to incitement of an offence;
b. information which has been expressly forbidden to be published by any court of law or tribunal or the disclosure of which may constitute contempt of court;
c. information, the disclosure of which would cause a breach of privilege of Parliament or the State Legislature;
d. information including commercial confidence, trade secrets or intellectual property, the disclosure of which would harm the competitive position of a third party, unless the competent authority is satisfied that larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information;
e. information available to a person in his fiduciary relationship, unless the competent authority is satisfied that the larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information;
f. information received in confidence from foreign Government;
g. information, the disclosure of which would endanger the life or physical safety of any person or identify the source of information or assistance given in confidence for law enforcement or security purposes;
h. information which would impede the process of investigation or apprehension or prosecution of offenders;
i. cabinet papers including records of deliberations of the Council of Ministers, Secretaries and other officers; Provided that the decisions of Council of Ministers, the reasons thereof, and the material on the basis of which the decisions were taken shall be made public after the decision has been taken, and the matter is complete, or over; Provided further that those matters which come under the exemptions specified in this section shall not be disclosed;
j. information which relates to personal information the disclosure of which has no relationship to any public activity or interest, or which would cause unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the individual unless the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer or the appellate authority, as the case may be, is satisfied that the larger public interest justifies the disclosure of such information;
It is also further clarified that in terms of pronouncement of Supreme Court judgment, Public Sector Banks can therefore refuse to disclose information about affairs of their customers on the ground that such disclosure will cause unwarranted invasion of privacy of the customers, pursuant to Section 8(1) (j) of the Right to Information Act, 2005. Provided that the information which cannot be denied to the Parliament or a State Legislature shall not be denied to any person.
The time limit of request for information to be disposed of is within 30 days from the date of receipt of request.
Every Public Authority shall maintain all its records as specified in the Act and publish the following as stated in the Act : The particulars of its organization, functions and duties, the powers and duties of its officers and employees, decision making process, including channels of supervision and accountability, the norms for the discharge of its functions, the rules, regulations, instructions, manuals and records used by its employees, a statement of the categories of the documents held, arrangement that exists for consultation with the members of the public, in relation to the formulation and implementation of policy, committees constituted and whether their meetings are open to the public, or the minutes of such meetings are accessible to the public, a directory of its officers and employees, the monthly remuneration of officers and employees, and system of compensation, the budget allocated, plans, expenditure and disbursements, details of subsidy programmes, particulars of concessions, permits or authorizations, details of the information available in an electronic form, facilities for obtaining information, particulars of Public Information Officers.
Section 4(1) (c ): Publish all relevant facts while formulating important policy or announcing the decisions which affects public.
Section 4 (1) (d): Provide reasons for its administrative or quasi-judicial decisions to affected persons.
Section 11: Third Party Information: Information Officer is empowered to disclose any information supplied by a third party and has been treated as confidential by that third party, after informing the intention to disclose the information to that third party, within five days from the receipt of the request.
If information asked for consists of exempt information and accessible information and two parts can be segregated, non-exempt information should be furnished.
It is now well settled that the rights conferred by Article 19 are confined to natural persons who are citizens and that a corporation not being a citizen cannot claim any of the rights included in that article even though their shareholders are citizens. Since a company is not a natural person and a citizen, it has no right to information under the Act.
In terms of Section 5(1) of the Act, the Bank has appointed the following Public Information Officer at Head Office.
Sri Samar Kumar Haldar. Scale-IV, Chief Manager Paschim Banga Gramin Bank Head Office, Natabar Paul Road, Chatterjee Para More, Howrah - 711 101, Landline No - 033-2667 9470