What is Right to Information (RTI) Act ?


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RTI is usually used as a synonym for democracy. It is a tool to strengthen citizen’s sovereignty. Knowledge is power rightly proved by RTI. Knowledge gained through access to correct information places a person at a formidable position to fight for their rights and enables them to ask vital questions.

Some facts: 

  • Was enacted into force on 13-October-2005.
  • Applies to all states and union territories of India except J&K- which is covered under a state-level law.
  • First successfully enacted by the states of Tamil Nadu and Goa in 1997. 
  • All authorities appoint Public information officer(PIO) and APIO under the act. 
  • Chief information officer(CIC) is the head of all information officers in the country. 

Significance of RTI: 

  • RTI act strengthens the principles of democracy by facilitating peoples participation in governance. It empowered the people to question, audit, review, examine, and assess government acts and decisions to ensure that these are consistent with the principles of public interests, good governance, and justice.
  • Helps to keep a check on public institutions regarding the decisions made by them or their work.
  • It gives voice to poor sections of society along with urban elites to hold govt accountable.
  • It is all about making citizens informed.  People have showed increased interest in the affairs of government and sought information regarding various issues affecting their lives and well-being.
  • Promotes transparency and accountability.
  • Plays a crucial role in combatting corruption by making the govt more open to public scrutiny. 
  • Important in promoting and upholding Human rights.

Challenges regarding RTI:


  • RTI completed 13 years in 2013. For the last few years, it has faced a constant onslaught by the current regime. 
  • Latest global data to information rating ranked India at 6th position. While under UPA govt, it was positioned at 2nd place, under BJP led govt, rank has successively dropped. 
  • The callous attitude of CIC and ICs: According to a study, CIC took an average of 319 days to hear and give an order on an appeal with maximum days taken to be 862. 
  • Implementation of Section 4: The idea was that proactive disclosure of the most important information by government machinery would reduce the need for citizens to separately seek information. Most studies confirm that more than 50% of the applications filed under the RTI act ask for information that should have been disclosed under Section 4.
  • An average of 56% of orders recorded violations of section 20* of RTI, but a penalty was imposed in only 4% of cases. 
  • Poor strength of CIC: only 7 ICs working with CIC. 4 will retire by year-end.
  • The government should make the process of selection of Information Commissioners more transparent. Close to 60% of all commissioners in the country are retired, civil servants.



How RTI been used for the good:


  • In the model district of Mochha, Chhattisgarh, people are using RTI to secure employment, scholarships, and pensions for the elderly. They also pressured government doctors and school teachers to show up at work regularly. Villagers in Madhubani district, Bihar used RTI to expose a solar-light scam, leading to charges against 200 corrupt officials.
  • In 2007, data obtained under RTI inspired citizens to question elected representatives to stop a scam worth over Rs. 6,000 crores in the Crawford Market redevelopment issues in Mumbai. 



Conclusion: 

  •  Participation, transparency, legitimacy, and responsiveness form the pillars of good governance. Right to Information Act, 2005 forms a basic requirement of good governance. 
  • *Section 20: states that any public official who deliberately delays or obstructs an application for information, or who deliberately provide incorrect or misleading information can be punished under the Central Act. 


  Mohd Kamran Ali
  Inern@thradical

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