Transparency and Accountability had a tough life style because it was not everyones cup of tea to live the way they lived and the choices they made. They had set high standards for themselves and were determined to fight corruption at all levels and at any cost. Their life had been full of challenges. So when RTI was born to them in 2005, their joy had no bounds for they were desperately looking for a successor who could carry their mission and vision forward. They had very high hopes on RTI.
RTI at a very young age proved that it was indeed the deserving child to its deserving parents. RTI became the friend, philosopher and guide that everyone could rely on. Rural or urban, men or women, poor or rich – RTI was there to help them with everything from their day to day problems to massive corruption in the system. RTI made people more independent and confident as no one was able to empower them like RTI did. RTI went on to pull of some incredible exposes: land mafia to ration mafia, from the bureaucrats to politicians – no one was sparred.
Assessment of RTI Act:
- The study pointed out that there was inadequate planning by the public authorities in regard to supply of information
- Awareness about the Act in rural areas was much less than in urban areas
- Awareness amongst women is much less than men
- The gap in implementation of the Act is because of lack of clear accountability in respect of various functionaries etc
- In this regard, the study recommended measures for improving awareness on right to information;
- Improving convenience in filing information requests
- Improving efficiency of the Information Commissions, enhancing accountability and clarity of various stakeholders, etc.
On death and threat to RTI activists:
- No data is maintained centrally and there is no need for a separate policy to deal with such threats or killings as they are covered under Indian Penal Code, Criminal Procedure Code etc. is considered adequate to provide for safety and security to all citizens.
- RTI Activists and whistleblowers also get protection under the Whistle Blowers Protection Act, 2011.
- Further as maintenance of law and order and providing safety and security for all citizens is primarily the subject matter of State Government concerned
- Government of India had drawn the attention of State Governments to the reports appearing in the media about the victimization of people, who use RTI to expose corruption and irregularities in administration.
- The States had been requested that if any such instance comes to their notice, it should be promptly inquired into and action taken against the offenders.
On Public Private Partnership coming under RTI act:
- The RTI Act, 2005 is applicable to public authorities as defined under Section 2(h) of the Act, which include bodies owned, controlled or substantially financed by the Government and non-Government organizations substantially financed directly or indirectly by funds provided by the appropriate Government.
- Any information about Public Private Partnership arrangement which can be disclosed under the RTI Act may be accessed through the Public Authority which has entered into the said arrangement.
Complications of the RTI Act
- A news item titled “One RTI Act, but 118 complications” reported that India has one Right to Information (RTI) Act but 118 separate sets of rules formulated independently by States, Courts, Information Commissioners, Parliament and State Assemblies.
- It has been further reported that these rules dictate varied fee, application format, number of words, type of identity proof required and mode of payment making the process of seeking information a complex one.
- The Central Government, however, in April 2011 requested all appropriate Governments and competent authorities to review their fee rules and to prescribe fee in consonance with the fee prescribed by the Government of India.
Political parties under RTI Act:
- The Central Information Commission (CIC) in its decision dated 3rd June, 2013 in the matter of Subhash Chand Agarwal and Anil Bairwal Vs. Indian National Congress and Five others has, inter-alia, held that AICC/INC, BJP, CPI(M), CPI, NCP and BSP are public authorities under section 2(h) of the Right to Information Act, 2005.
- The Government of India is not a respondent in this case.
- There are a number of cases where an applicant has filed first appeal with the First Appellate Authority in the concerned Public Authority and second appeal/complaint with the Central Information Commission/State Information Commission, as the case may be, inter-alia, due to the following reasons:
- (i) Non-receipt of information within prescribed time;
- (ii) Denial of request for information;
- (iii) If he/she believes that incomplete/misleading or false information under this Act has been given by the Public Information Officer.
- that the Act should not be allowed to be converted into a tool of oppression or intimidation of honest officials striving to do their duty.
On Misuse of RTI act:
- Right to Information Act has enough provisions to deny access to information which may harm personal interests.
References (The links to the Q&A sessions in the Lok Sabha):