Public records act & RTI Act

Context: Losing of government records is one of the main reasons for denying of RTI Applications. Currently, RTI Act does not have any provisions to deal with lose of public records. In this regard, Public Records Act, 1993 provides a framework for management and administration of public records of central government and its agencies and UT administration and their agencies are treated as public records and need to be properly archived.

Salient Features of Public Records Act, 1993 

This act aims to regulate the management, administration and preservation of public records of Central Government, UT Administrations, PSUs, statutory bodies and corporations, commissions & committees constituted by Central Government or a UT Administration.

Definition of Public Records: Any Document, manuscripts, files, microfilms, microfiche, facsimile copy of a document, reproduction of images embodied in such microfilms, any other material produced by a computer or by any other device created by any records creating agency.

Records Creating Agency: 

  • Any ministry, department or office of Central Government; Offices of any, body wholly or substantially controlled or financed by Central Government; department or office of UT Administration. 
  • Every records creating agency shall nominate one of its officers as records officer to discharge the functions under this act.

Responsibilities of Records Officer:

  • Proper management, maintenance and preservation of public records under his charge.
  • Periodical review of all public records and weeding out public records of ephemeral value
  • Appraisal of public records which are more than 25 years old in consultation with National Archives of India or Archives of UT with a view of retaining public records of permanent value.
  • Destruction of public records in a manner
  • Compilation of  a schedule of retention for public records in consultation with National Archives of India or Archives of UT.
  • Periodical review for downgrading of classified public records 
  • Adoption of such standards, procedures and techniques as may be recommended from time to time by National Archives of India for improvement of record management system and maintenance of security of public records.
  • Compilation of annual indices of public records
  • Compilation of organisational history and annual supplement.
  • Assisting National Archives of India and Archives of UT.
  • Submission of annual report to Director General or head of Archives
  • Transferring of records of any defunct body to National Archives of India or Archives of UT for preservation. 

Power of Central Government: Central Government shall have power to coordinate, regulate and supervise the operations connected with administration, management, preservation, selection, disposal and retirement of public records under this Act. 

  • Director General of Archives to be appointed by Central Government.
  • Head of Archives means a person holdiing the charge of Archives of UT. 

Powers of Director General or head of Archives

Central Government for public records relating to organisations of central government and UT Administration for public records relating to organisations of UT, may by order authorise Director General or head of Archives to carry out the following functions:

  • Supervision, management and control of Archives.
  • Acceptance for deposit of public records of permanent nature after such period 
  • Custody, use and withdrawal of public records.
  • Arrangement, preservation and exhibition of public records.
  • Preparation of inventories, indices, catalogues and other reference media of public records.
  • Analysing, developing, promoting and coordinating the standards, procedures and techniques for improvement of records management system.
  • Ensuring maintenance, arrangement and security of public records in Archives and in the offices of records creating agency.
  • Promoting utilisation of available space and maintenance of equipments for preserving public records.
  • Tendering advice to records creating agencies on the compilation, classification and disposal of records management.
  • Survey and inspection of public records.
  • Organising training programs in various disciplines of Archives administration and records management.
  • Accepting records from any private source.
  • Regulating reports on records management and disposal practices from records officer.
  • Providing authenticated copies of extracts from public records.
  • Destroying or disposal of public records.
  • Obtaining on lease or purchasing or accepting as gift any document of historical or national importance. 

Receipt of records from private sources: National Archives of India or Archives of UT may accept any record of historical or national importance from any private source by way of gift or purchase etc.

Access to Public Records: 

  • All unclassified public records which are more than 30 years old and transferred to National Archives of India or Archives of UT can be mada available to any bona fide research scholar, such to exceptions or restrictions.
  • Any records creating agency may grant to any person access to any public record in its custody, in a manner manner as may be prescribed.

Archival Advisory Board: Central Government to constitute an Archival Advisory Board to be headed by Secretary of Union Ministry of Culture. 

The Archival Advisory Board shall perform the following functions:

  • Advise Central Government and UT Administration on matters concerning administration, management, conservation and use of public records.
  • Lay down guidelines for training of archivists.
  • Give directions for acquisition of records from private custody.
  • Deal with such matters as may be prescribed.

Director General shall have power to lay down norms and standards for courses curricula, assessment and examinations relating to training in archival science and other ancillary subjects. 

Prohibitions under Public Records Act

  • No public record shall be destroyed or disposed except in such manner and conditions as may be prescribed.
  • Prohibition against taking of public records out of India, except without prior approval of Central government. 
  • No record created before the year 1892 shall be destroyed except where in the opinion of Director General or head of Archives, it is so defaced or is in such condition that it cannot be put to any archival use. 
  • Whoever contravenes the above provisions shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term of upto 5 years or with fine (up to Rs 10,000) or both. 
  • No public records bearing security classification shall be transferred to National Archives of India or Archives of UT.

Need to make Public Records Act more effective

  • Currently, Public Records Act, 1993 only applies to Central Government and UT Administration. It does not apply to state governments. State governments have their own acts and often many states also do not have such act. This makes it difficult to deal with the issue to misplaced files.
  • There is a need to make archives easily accessible to researchers on a easier basis for accurate analysis by historians.

2 thoughts on “Public records act & RTI Act

  1. Can it[1] be clarified [1] The documents while joining duty submitted by the employees
    to the Public Authority [2] doucments /statements etc. in compliance to any Act are PUBLIC RECORDSor not. [3] whether public can access to such records. what is the provision in the Public Records Act. please help.

  2. It is really great. what a fantastic speed in previewing my message Do we have such an unimaginably faster system Sir. Speedier than the light indeed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The maximum upload file size: 20 MB. You can upload: image, document, archive, other. Drop files here

Online Counselling
Table of Contents
Today's Current Affairs
This is default text for notification bar