Day 70 – Q 3.With the help of suitable examples, illustrate the ways in which Right to Information (RTI) has ushered Indian administration and governance into an era of transparency.
3. With the help of suitable examples, illustrate the ways in which Right to Information (RTI) has ushered Indian administration and governance into an era of transparency.
उपयुक्त उदाहरणों की मदद से यह बताएं कि किस प्रकार सूचना के अधिकार (आरटीआई) ने भारतीय प्रशासन को पारदर्शिता के युग में ले गया है।
India is the world’s biggest democracy. Right to Information(RTI) Act, 2005 ensures that the people put in power remain answerable to the citizens always. It has marked a move from opaqueness to the beginning of an era of transparency and it fundamentally restructures the debate on governance from what should be revealed to what must be kept secret.
- An information-driven society leads to transparency and accountability. Since transparency involves sharing of information it thoroughly reduces chances of corruption, nepotism, favouritism, which is ensured by RTI.
- The RTI act is immensely vital for the functioning of any democracy as it sanctions its citizen the right to inspect the work of the government and ask for certified copies to know the status of the work of different government projects. The RTI Act mandates timely response to a request for information from a public authority.
- Indians file nearly 60 lakh RTIs every year, the highest number of such information requests in the world. A total number of 2,74,737 RTI applications were filed under standalone in different departments and agencies of Delhi.
Further, RTI brought in the changes in governance in the country through the following ways :
- Participation – Participation of both men and women is the cornerstone of good governance. The Right to information acts gives people a chance to participate not just one in five years, but every day and question any decisions.
- Accessibility- Right to Information makes it possible to easy access of information from government departments, documents, records, services, finances and policies to all sectors of the community. By providing easy access of information, it reduces the traditional long gaps between citizens and administration and thus helps in nation building process.
- Transparency- Transparency is the milestone of good governance. The enactment of Right to Information act 2005, people are now able to seek information from any government department with a definite time frame. The Right to Information act is intended to promote accountability and transparency in government by making the process of government decision making more open.
Transparency is considered essential for controlling corruption in public life. Transparency and accountability in Government are mutually reinforcing. The effect of RTI in this regard can be seen from the following examples:
- The impact created through this legislation can be seen through some of the landmark judgements, for instance, in the matter of Adarsh Scam, where crucial links between politicians and military officials was disclosed. This 31-storey building had permission for only 6 floors which was meant entirely for the welfare of war widows and veterans. Instead, these flats went to several politicians, bureaucrats and their relatives.
- In an another matter an RTI filed by an NGO based in Punjab it was revealed that the funds that were meant for victims of the Kargil War were used by bureaucrats to buy cars and air-conditioners. The court charged these bureaucrats with fraud and the funds were then transferred into Prime Minister’s Relief Fund.
- People in Rural Karnataka have combined the campaigns for the Right to Information and the Right to Food to fight hunger. Poor villagers have successfully participated in social audits and public hearings to demand that the rations due to them are allotted to them at the correct prices.
RTI also has its share of issues and shortcomings, which can be seen from below –
- The RTI Act is in a state of dismay. According to a study done by Satark Nagrik Sangathan (SNS) and Centre for Equity Studies (CES), the number of appeals and complaints pending as on December 31, 2016, in the 23 information commissions were 1,81,852.
- It is also seen that Section 4 of RTI Act which is suo motu disclosure of information by public authorities is itself violated by information commissions. Eventually either the information is not available in the public domain or if it is, then such information is obsolete.
- If the information is used to make allegations to malign public servants or create disorder it can negatively impact the working of public bodies. Adequate checks and balances are needed in the systems to ensure that information is not misused by such elements.
No country can progress without having transparency and accountability in its governance and RTI isn’t just a law but a tool for the functioning of better democracy. It is a citizen’s fundamental right derived from Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution. There is a general consensus in India that the institutions of transparency taken singly and collectively are ushering in the road towards fulfilling the ideals of ‘New India’.