September 28: International Day for Universal Access to Information
Every year, the United Nations celebrates International Day for Universal Access to Information on September 28. This year the day focuses on the right to information in the times of crisis.
The day is celebrated to highlight the advantages of having statutory, constitutional policies to provide public access to information and build trust.
Programmes under United Nations
The UNESCO has launched the Information for All Programme and International Programme for Development of Communication to provide a platform to make sure all the stakeholders participate in the international discussions in the area of access to information.
The day was declared by UNESCO in 2015. It was then called as “Access to Information Day”. Later after several international organizations and civil societies celebrated the day, it was adopted by the United Nations as well.
The day was celebrated as “International Right to Know Day” since 2002 until UNESCO adopted it with a different name.
Right to Information in India
In India, it is governed by the Right to Information Act, 2005. It was replaced by Freedom of Information Act, 2002. The following are the key features of the act
- Right to Information means the right to access information held by public authority. This includes inspection of work, documents and records; taking certified samples; taking extracts, notes or copies of documents or records, obtaining information from floppies, diskettes, tapes or other electronic devices.
- Public Authority is an institution or body that was established under constitution or by law made by parliament of sate legislature or NGOs that are funded directly or indirectly by GoI and bodies owned and financed substantially.
- Under the act, if the information sought concerns life of a person, then it has to be provided within 48 hours.
- The act provides appointment of Information Commissioners
Jammu and Kashmir
The act was earlier not applicable to Jammu and Kashmir. It was governed by the Jammu and Kashmir Right to Information Act, 2009. However, in October 2019, the GoI had written to the J&K Information Commission to transit J&K RTI, 2009 act to Centre’s RTI act. This is still pending before the commission. The centre has also requested to transfer the complaints and appeals pending before the J&K Information Commission to Central Information Commission.
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