India is the largest democracy in the world. We all pay taxes. Even a beggar on the street pays sales tax when he buys anything from the market. This money belongs to us. But do we know where does this money go? RTI gives us a right to question governments. In 1975 SC declared that the citizens right to know flow’s directly from the fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression.RTI is directly linked to the Right to Life which includes the right to food, health, education, liberty, etc. and the denial of information is a denial of these rights. If we do not have information on how our Government and Public Institutions function, we cannot express any informed opinion on it.
RTI is needed because there are certain problems in flow of information. Some of the problems are :
Laws like the Official Secrets Act / Code of Conduct of Civil Servants
Culture of secrecy that prevailed in Government
Lack of accountability in public offices
Badly kept records
People do not know where to go for information
Illiteracy of people
In early 1990s Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathana began a movement to- bring in transparency in village accounts in Rajasthan. It lobbied government to obtain information regarding bills and vouchers relating to purchase and transportation of materials. This was then verified at Jan Sunwais (public hearings) against actual testimonies of workers. These public hearings were highly successful in drawing attention to corruption and exposing leakages in the system. Success of MKSS became a source of inspiration for activists in India and sowed the seeds of broader discourse on the right to information in India. Accordingly, some states passed RTI Act. Tamil Nadu was the first to enact it in 1997. Later Goa, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Delhi, Maharashtra, Assam , MP and J&K also enacted RTI in their respective states.
... in the international arena. The RTI generally understood as the right to access information held by public authorities is not just a ... people, for ensuring transparency in government departments and containing corruption. International Trend The first RTI law was enacted by Sweden ... are under active consideration in many other countries. In India, RTI Act was introduced in 2005 and since then this ...
For Indian Govt, it took 82 years to transition from an opaque system of governance to one where citizens can demand the right to information. It was passed by Parliament on 15 June 2005 and came fully into force on 13 October 2005.
Ensure citizens right to information
to promote transparency/accountability to the governed
to contain corruption
to have informed citizens & democracy
The Act is applicable to whole of India except Jammu and Kashmir . It is applicable to all constitutional authorities, including the executive, legislature and judiciary; any institution or body established or constituted by an act of Parliament or a state legislature. Also, all the bodies which are owned, controlled or substantially financed” by government, including non-Government organizations are also covered in it.
The Act empowers every citizen to:
Ask any questions from the Government or seek any information.
Take copies of any governmental documents.
Inspect any governmental documents.
Inspect any Governmental works.
Take samples of materials of any Governmental work.
Information means any material in any form including records, documents, memos, e-mails, opinions.
Under the Act, all authorities covered must appoint their Public Information Officer (PIO).
Any person may submit a request to the PIO for information in writing. It is the PIO’s obligation to provide such information within 30 days. If the request pertains to another public authority (in whole or part), it is the PIO’s responsibility to transfer/forward the concerned portions of the request to a PIO of the other within 5 working days. In addition, every public authority is required to designate Assistant Public Information Officers (APIOs) to receive RTI requests and appeals for forwarding to the PIOs of their public authority. The applicant has to disclose only his name and contact details.
... Assistant Public Information Officers (APIOs) to receive RTI requests and appeals for forwarding to the PIOs of their public authority. The RTI Act specifies that a citizen ... making the request is not obliged to disclose any information except his/her ...
We can use this act for getting our works done such as getting a road repaired, getting an electricity connection, admissions in educational institutions and so on.
By enacting the Right to Information Act India has moved from an opaque and arbitrary system of government to the beginning of an era where there will be greater transparency and to a system where the citizen will be empowered and the true center of power. Only by empowering the ordinary citizen can any nation progress towards greatness and we have taken a small but significant step towards that goal.