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Obtaining information

The Right to Information Act is in place but there are many who do not know much about it.

Sensing the need to popularise the Act, which has often been termed as "revolutionary," the Human Rights Defence Forum here has come out with a handbook on it.

Published in Malayalam, Vivaravakasha Niyamam is a ready reckoner for those who seek details of various clauses included in the Act.

"There is a need for creating more awareness about the Act. Even Government officials are unaware of the provisions included in it," says P.K. Ibrahim, chairman of the Forum.

Rights to information covers inspection of work, document, records and its certified copy in the form of diskettes, floppies, tapes and videocassettes in any electronic mode.

The applicant can obtain information within 30 days from the date of request in a normal case. Information can be obtained within 48 hours from time of request, if it is a matter of life or liberty of a person.

Mr. Ibrahim says that every public authority is under obligation to provide information on written request or through electronic means.

A salient feature of the Act is that there is a penalty for refusal to receive an application for information.

The fine for not providing information is Rs.250 per day. D.B. Binu, general secretary of the Forum, says that an applicant submitting a request for information need not furnish any reason for doing so.

The handbook has included various clauses prescribed in the Act. It has also given the format of application forms used for submitting a request.

Details of those public sector organisations that had appointed Public Information Officers as per the Act are also included in the handbook.

More details about the handbook can be had from the Human Rights Defence Forum, opposite Centre Revenue Buildings, I.S. Press Road, Ernakulam.

G. Krishnakumar

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