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WHEN WAS THE ACT PASSED?
The Right to Information Act (RTI) 2005 was passed by Parliament on 15 June 2005 and came fully into force on 12 October 2005.
WHAT DOES THE ACT ENTAIL?
- Under this Act, any citizen can request information from a “public authority” or a government body, who are required to reply within 30 days.
- The information seeker is not required to provide a reason for the information request.
- The Act also requires every public authority to computerise their records and publicly make available certain categories of information, spreading them as widely as possible without it having being requested.
- Prior to the Central RTI Act coming in place, only 8 states and 1 Union Territory had right to information laws, which may differ slightly in the provisions:
– Delhi – Right to Information Act 2001
– Assam – Right to Information 2002
– Goa – Right to Information Act 1997
– Jammu and Kashmir – Right to Information Act 2004
– Madhya Pradesh – Jankari Ki Swatantrata Adhiniyam 2002
– Rajasthan – Right to Information Act 2000
– Tamil Nadu – Right to Information Act 1997
– Karnataka – Right to Information Act 2000 (repealed)
– Maharashtra – Right to Information Act 2002 (repealed)
- However, the new Central RTI Act covers all central government as well as state and local level public authorities, except Jammu & Kashmir, which is not covered by the Central legislation due to its special status. So, every Indian citizen from every Indian state will be able to demand information under the Central RTI Act.
- A Public Information Officer (PIO) must be appointed by each agency which the RTI Act covers. It is he who caters to the information requests from the applicants. Assistant Public Information Officers (APIOs) receive the RTI requests and appeals and forward them to their respective PIOs.
WHAT IS THE NEED FOR THIS ACT?
- It keeps citizens informed, helps them understand what information can be accessed and how to seek it, and minimizes the time, effort, and money required by the public to access routine information.
- The Act empowers citizens, helps them keep a vigil on the Government, and makes the Government more accountable to the governed.
- It promotes transparency on the Government’s working and helps contain corruption, as through demands of information, citizens can expose fraudulent practices by government officials or get the police to act.
WHICH BODIES ARE COVERED UNDER THE RTI ACT?
When making an RTI application, one needs to check which body holds the required information and whether they are covered by the RTI law.
According to Section 2(h) of the Central RTI Act, the bodies covered under the Act are:
- All the Central, State and local level bodies set up under the Constitution or under any other State or Central statue, including the President, the legislature, the judiciary, and all related Ministries, departments, and agencies fall under the Act.
- Anybody owned, controlled, or financed directly or indirectly by the Government, including private bodies receiving Government funding fall under the Act. However, most of the State RTI Acts do not cover private bodies.
- The Central Information Commission (CIC) initially categorised political parties as public authorities, who would thus be answerable to citizens under the RTI Act. However, the Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, passed in December 2013, removed political parties from the scope of the law.
- Those Central Intelligence and Security agencies specified in the Second Schedule such as the IB, Directorate General of Income tax(Investigation), RAW, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Central Economic Intelligence Bureau, Directorate of Enforcement, Narcotics Control Bureau, Aviation Research Centre, Special Frontier Force, BSF, CRPF, ITBP, CISF, NSG, Assam Rifles, Special Service Bureau, Special Branch (CID), Andaman and Nicobar, The Crime Branch-CID-CB, Dadra, and Nagar Haveli and Special Branch, Lakshadweep Police, etc. are excluded from the provisions of the Act.
The section 24(1) of the Central RTI Act, which excludes some bodies from the RTI law, also allows the Government to keep adding to the list of exempt agencies. So, one must check the section for latest updates before submitting the RTI application.
In case the required information seems to be related to multiple bodies, the applicant must find which agency has the closest connection to the information. Even if the application reaches the wrong body, it is transferred to the body which holds the specific information.
WHAT TYPES OF INFORMATION CAN BE AVAILED?
After identifying the specific body which holds the information, one needs to identify the type of information and find out whether it is covered under the RTI Act. The various formats of required information are:
- Obtaining information in the form of floppies, diskettes, tapes, video tapes, tapes, or any other electronic mode.
- Obtaining certified copies of documents or records;
- Inspecting records;
- Taking notes and extracts;
- Inspecting public works;
- Taking samples of material from public works;
The State laws for RTI may differ in the kinds of information the public is allowed to access.
One must be as specific as possible when asking any information from a Public Information Officer. The person needs to see if the search can be limited by date, area or amount, as any vagueness or ambiguity might result in the application being rejected by the PIO.
WHAT TYPES OF INFORMATION CANNOT BE AVAILED?
Certain sensitive pieces of information, if disclosed, might create more harm than good to the public interest. So, according to the section 8(1) of the Central RTI Act, some “exemption provisions” have been provided. A proper understanding of these clauses is necessary as they are often abused by officials who want to purposefully keep their actions a secret. The exemptions are:
- Any information, which if disclosed, may affect the “strategic, scientific or economic” interests of the State, its foreign relations, or lead to incitement of an offense.
- Any information, the disclosure of which is forbidden by the Court or any tribunal.
- Any information, the disclosure of which can cause a breach of privilege of the Parliament or the State Legislature.
- Any information regarding trade secrets, commercial confidence, or intellectual property, the disclosure of which would harm the competitive position of a third party (unless the particular authority wants to disclose the information for a wider public interest).
- Any information available to a person in his fiduciary relationship (unless the particular authority specifically wants to disclose the information for a wider public interest).
- Any foreign Government information received in confidence.
- Any information, the disclosure of which can put an individual’s safety or liberty at risk, such as ‘whistleblowers,’ or anyone who has provided certain information required for law enforcement.
- Any information, the disclosure of which can impede investigation, apprehension, or prosecution of offenders.
- Cabinet papers, including deliberation records of the Council of Ministers, Secretaries, and other officers.
- Personal information not related to any public activity or interest, which would create an unwarranted invasion of the individual’s privacy.
It however must be known that according to a “Public Interest Override” (see section 8(2) of the Central RTI Act), even if the requested information is covered by an exemption, it must still be disclosed if the public interest in the specific case is greater than the harm in disclosing it.
WHAT IS THE APPLICATION PROCEDURE?
- The information seeker can fill up the RTI application form available here. The following link provides detailed guidelines with screenshots on how to fill up an RTI application through the online portal: https://rtionline.gov.in/um_citizen.pdf
- The information seeker must send along with the RTI application, a nominal fee of Rs 10 via a demand draft, a bankers cheque or an Indian Postal Order, payable to the Accounts Officer of the public authority.
- The information seeker may be required to pay a further fee as required for delivering the requested information, which will be intimated to him by the PIO.
- The time required between the PIO’s reply and the deposit of the further fees is excluded from the allowed time period for information receipt.
- If the required information is not provided within the expected time period, it must be provided free of charge.
- In such a case, it is also treated as a refusal, which may be ground for complaint or appeal, according to circumstances.
- In cases where the Central or State PIO is not appointed or refuses to receive the application for information request, the Central Information Officer (CIC) intervenes and acts upon the complaints.
- There are major obstacles to implementing the law such as the lack of adequate public awareness, especially in rural areas, lack of a proper system to store and distribute the information, lack of capacity of the PIOs to deal with the requests, bureaucratic mindset and attitude etc.
- The Act is also applicable specifically to Indian citizens only. So, foreigners, travelers and refugees are not allowed to use the law to get information.
"In India, to be born as a man is a crime, to question a woman is an atrocious crime, and this all because of those women who keep suppressing men in the name of feminism."
Feminism, a worldwide movement that started to establish, define and defend equal rights for women in all sections- economically, politically, and socially. India, being a patriarchal society gives a gender advantage to the men in the society thus, Indian feminists sought to fight against the culture-specific issue for women in India. Feminism itself is nothing but a simple movement that pursues equal rights for women (including transwomen) and against misogyny both external and internal. It states nowhere that women should get more wages than men, that women deserve more respect than men, that's pseudo-feminism.
Pseudo feminists state that women deserve more respect and rights, any other gender deserves no respect. They feel that women should be the ones ruling the world and at higher positions. When feminism takes a turn for extremities it becomes pseudo-feminism and people who label themselves as feminists will bash anyone who speaks against even the wrongdoings of a woman. They'll bash women who're wife and sisters for not speaking up and support any women criticizing political leaders even if it's completely irrational. This is where hypocrisy and pseudo-feminism merge with each other.
They take advantage of the rights given to women to protect themselves to threaten other genders. The rights given to women are supposed to make them feel reassured that they can reach out to the judiciary if their rights are being hampered not to threaten to make the victim sound like the culprit.
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Indian Feminist Movement has made significant progress however, even in the modern world women are still unsafe and are discriminated against when it comes to getting a job, land ownership, and access to education. While filling the official papers it is still asked "Wife of /Daughter of:….."
People in India still continue the practice of sex-selective abortion, abandoning the girl child, not letting girl child study instead they should learn household chores, they are seen as a burden to the family. Such injustices make feminism such an important movement, gender equality is worth fighting for to create a safe environment for women. Feminists over the years have been criticized for focusing on the rights of privileged women and not giving equal representation to poorer and lower caste women, which has led to separate caste-specific feminist organizations and movements.
Some notable milestones in the Feminist Movement
- Raja Ram Mohan Roy campaigned against Sati Pratha (practice in which a widow sacrificed herself by sitting atop her deceased husband's funeral pyre) and child marriage
- Savitribai Phule started the first school for girls at Bhidewada in Pune city in 1848.
- In 1972, SEWA, the biggest trade union for women was set up by Ela Bhatt for women working in the informal sector.
- The Chipko Movement was launched and led by women in 1973.
- #MeToo movement against sexual harassment and abuse was started in 2006 and revived in the year 2015.
People in India still continue the practice of sex-selective abortion, abandoning the girl child, not letting girl child study instead they should learn household chores, they are seen as a burden to the family.Unsplash
Feminism is often misunderstood as pseudo-feminism and hence, becomes the target for public hatred and is accused of wronging other genders under the façade of feminism. It is misunderstood by Indians as female domination instead of gender equality. Indian society and Indian feminists believe that only men are perpetrators of a heinous crime like rape and they refuse to even recognize the men who say they were raped and it's the toxic masculinity in the society that believes how can a woman rape a man? Reality is different from what we believe, women can be the perpetrator too, women threaten to file a case of domestic violence, or sexual assault against innocent people just to fulfill their ego.
Thankfully feminism and pseudo feminism are two separate concepts and feminism is just about equality and not judgment. Indian society and feminists actually need to understand the difference between the two and stop tarnishing the Feminist Movement as a whole.
Keywords: Feminism, World, India, Pseudo-Feminism, Gender
Kerala is a land of many good things. It has an abundance of nature, culture, art, and food. It is also a place of legend and myth, and is known for its popular folklore, the legend of Yakshi. This is not a popular tale outside the state, but it is common knowledge for travellers, especially those who fare through forests at night.
The legend of the yakshi is believed to be India's equivalent of the Romanian Dracula, except of course, the Yakshi is a female. Many Malayalis believe that the Yakshi wears a white saree and had long hair. She has a particular fragrance, which is believed to be the fragrance of the Indian devil-tree flowers. She seduces travellers with her beauty, and kills them brutally.
Yakshi idol in Veroor, Sri Dharamashastha temple Image source: wikimedia commons
The Yakshi is believed to live in a palm tree which can appear like a palace. Victims are taken here before they are killed. Travellers on highways are often advised not to stop near heavily forested areas, or speak to anyone who closely resembles a Yakshi. Some believe she can change form, while other hold to the belief that she doesn't. after securing her victim, the only trace left behind is body parts like hair, nails, and teeth.
They say, like other ghosts, a Yakshi's feet will not touch the ground. This is something to look out for. Mysterious deaths have been reported across the rural areas in Kerala, and all these have been attributed to the legend.
Keywords: Legends, Yakshi, Urban legend, Ghost, Kerala, Myth, Vampire
The LGBTQ+ acronym stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and others. In India LGBTQ+ community also include a specific social group, part religious cult, and part caste: the Hijras. They are culturally defined either as "neither men nor women" or as men who become women by adopting women's dress and behavior. Section 377 of the India Penal code that criminalized all sexual acts "against the order of nature" i.e. engaging in oral sex or anal sex along with other homosexual activities were against the law, ripping homosexual people off of their basic human rights. Thus, the Indian Supreme Court ruled a portion of Section 377 unconstitutional on 6th September 2018.
But the question is, "was India always against homosexuality"? Has the concept of homosexuality being unnatural existed forever? No, in Indian history and Hinduism homosexuality has never been an offense, in fact in several instances it has been depicted how people embraced their identity, be it sexual identity or gender identity. Section 377 was brought to India by the British in 1862, while India was colonized. Even after the Independence, it was only in 2018 that the Supreme Court ruled it as irrational and illogical.
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Homosexuality in Ancient India
When Supreme Court decriminalized homosexuality in India, there was an uproar about it being a western ideology and liberalism. But in reality, homosexuality has existed since the time of the Vedas. The Gay and Lesbian Vaishnava Association (GALVA) researched and discovered that it was around 3102 B.C. (during the Vedic Age) that homosexuality or non-normative sexual identity was recognized as "Tritiya Prakriti", or the third nature. Ancient India not only made mentions of homosexuality but accepted it as well.
Hinduism is the most vastly followed religion in India. Hinduism does not explicitly mention homosexuality however it does contain a homosexual theme and characters in its text. There have been various instances in our scriptures and texts that have introduced us to LGBT+ characters such as the androgynous form of Shiva and Parvati Ardhanariswara meaning "the half-female lord". One of the most popular and ancient texts on sexuality, eroticism, and emotional fulfillment of life, "Kamasutra" has a complete chapter dedicated to homosexuality and homosexual sex. Numerous Hindu sculptures and temples have statues depicting homosexual activities.
Numerous Hindu sculptures and temples have statues depicting homosexual activities. Facebook
Our Mughals were Queer
Mughals are often seen under the light of cruelty, rigid ethics, nobility, and polygamy. Simultaneously, Mughals are also the ones credited for the emergence of Sufism, abolished jizya tax, love beyond religion, classes, and gender.
In the Baburnama written in memoirs of our very first Mughal ruler Muhammad Babur, several instances documented Babur's infatuation and affection towards a teenage boy named Baburi. We also have multiple Persian couplets as evidence of Babur's affection for Baburi. Mughals engaged in homosexuality and pederasty, and they believed that later was a form of "pure love".
But as time passed homosexuality was suppressed more and more though people practiced it in secret if revealed they were punished. According to the Fatwa-e-Alamgiri Sharia-based text of the Mughal Empire, there is a common set of punishments for homosexuality, which could include 50 lashes for a slave, 100 for a free infidel, or death by stoning for a Muslim.
British Raj and Independence of India
In 1862, Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that criminalized homosexual sex came into force. Even after Independence in 1947, the section remained a part of the Indian Constitution. There were protests all over the country to give people of the LGBT+ community basic human rights but it was not until 2018 that The Supreme Court of India ruled the portion of Section 377 has unconstitutional and struck it off. One judge said the landmark decision would "pave the way for a better future.". With Section 377 gone are LGBT+ people allowed to fall in love freely? No, people are still afraid to love because of the stigma in our society when it comes to homosexuality; they are seen as lesser humans.
ALSO READ: Significant Support for Rights for LGBTQ+
Although the Supreme Court has decriminalized homosexual activities, same-sex marriage remains illegal in the country. Homophobia is still prevalent in India, and homosexual children would rather commit suicide than come out to society with their true identity, that's how harsh of a world we live in. Lacking support from family, society, or police, many gay rape victims do not report the crimes. In 1977, writer and Indian mathematician Shakuntla Devi published "The World of Homosexuals". It was the first study in the Indian context; the book contains interviews with homosexual men set in the years of Emergency. She wrote, "rather than pretending that homosexuals don't exist it is time we face the facts squarely in the eye and find room for homosexual people." We've had small victories in our fight against homophobia and getting LGBT+ community the rights they deserve as humans, but we still have a long and exhausting fight ahead of us.