3. Right to Information Act

Do you think that the RTI Act is a powerful weapon in the hands of the people?

Can you give two instances where it has worked well?

Can judges be made free from the Act?

Should  the non-security activities of the Ministry of Defence be excluded from the RTI Act?

Who should be exempted from the purview of the Act.

Let your postings be direct , brief and to the point.


10 thoughts on “3. Right to Information Act

  1. The RTI should include all organs of the government including the Prime Minister himself as well as the judiciary. It makes sense to exclude some parts of the defense ministry, but the notion of ‘national security’ should not be stretched too far. Two instances where the RTI act has proved indispensable are the 2G and the CWG scams. The primary obligation of the politicians is to the people and if the application of the act results in a slight slow-down of the administrative machinery (which was slow even before the passage of the RTI act), then so be it.

    1. I agree with you fully. The RTI Act should be regarded as the most important achievement of the UPA 2 Government. There are noises within the government that the Act should be looked into. People should zealously protect the Act.. You have not touched on all te issues raised by me. I expect a more complete involvement from you.

    2. The RTI has spawned a class of Information Activists who have been forcing governments to be transparent in its activities and bring out all under hand dealings. I feel that this is the most important achievement of the go UPA 2 Government. But I am sure that it s regretting its move. As it is there are noises that the Act should be looked into. As you have said certain areas of defence – an these must be clearly defined -may be exempted from the Act.

  2. Right to Information Act, 2005 comes as a paradigm shift as it completely opens up the system and invites public to see whatever it wants to see and the system has to show. After the 73rd and 74th constitutional amendment pertaining to Panchayat Raj, it is Right to Information Act reverberation of which are being widely felt in Indian governance.

    Right to Information Act not only reforms administration but it also empowers the public. It empowers the public to ask any information and it leaves officialdom traumatized. Officialdom could not think that such legislation can be passed. It was just unprepared for it. They just do not know how to respond to it as it is being considered most radical law in the world with regard to information seeking. Comic and funny things are happening like some people asking some information and some other people are approaching them at their home and persuading them not to ask information. In nutshell, now administration has also come under public scrutiny. In a way, administration has become directly accountable to the public. Information has been so broadly defined that public can ask any question except some security and sovereignty related matters. Information-seeker cannot be asked why he or she wants information. This legislation has ended asymmetrical and undemocratic power relationship between administration and the public in one stroke. The power relationship has been made to tilt in favour of the public.

    After Panchayat Raj institutions, Right to Information Act is going to prove the biggest mobilizing factor. People have started rushing and seeking information of their interest, which has been so dear and so vital to them. They are releasing their frustration by filing applications. This act has forced administration to show respect to democracy. Babus are not finding themselves able to withstand the public pressure. This act has brought megalomaniac bureaucracy down before the public and taken away its sense of being powerful. Right to Information Act not only ensures democratic elements in administration but it is also expected to improve efficiency and increase promptness and speedy action in administration.

    Effective use of RTI and the results…….
    Crores of celeb MP funds lie unutilised
    RTI reply reveals Mumbai Collector’s office did not distribute unused funds of several state celebrity MPs, amounting to more than Rs 10 crore, to their successors; the MPs include Lata Mangeshkar, Shabana Azmi The Mumbai Collector’s office failed to transfer unused MPLADS funds of several celebrity Rajya Sabha MPs in the state to the tune of Rs 10.05 crore to their successors, an RTI reply has revealed.
    (Affected on Development of the constituency from where they have been elected.)
    NGO unearths wheat scam in Meghalaya
    A social organisation in Meghalaya has unearthed that wheat worth crores of rupees under the Targeted Public Distribution System has been allegedly diverted for the past several years. Under a Right To Information application the Food Corporation of India (FCI) has given information that the State has been receiving wheat from 2008. Every month the State receives its quota of 1,403 metric tonnes of wheat, but none of the fair price shops are distributing it.
    (Mostly Tribal Populous State. Already suffering from lack of nutritious food, Now suffers more with this type of bureaucrats and politicians.)

    Rs 38 lakh for rehabilitation of child laborers lying unspent

    A sum of R38 lakh is the amount lying unspent with the Delhi Child Labour Rehabilitation cum Welfare Society, which takes care of rehabilitation of rescued child labourers annually, a query under RTI has revealed.
    (Child labour is a disease, Offices like this makes it spread like a plague)

    TN: Notebooks for SC/ST pupils only on paper

    While the Tamil Nadu government has earmarked `20 crore for distribution of free notebooks to students belonging to the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, at least 13 schools in five districts have not received the notebooks, which gives rise to the big question: Where has the money gone? Headmasters of the schools, in their reply to RTI queries filed by S Karuppaiah of the Dalit Liberation Movement.
    (No book to write, no food to eat, and no right to live- A Untouchable live forever as a Untouchables..!!! )

    Judges should be made part of it, but when the case is in court the judge should be given right to refuse to provide certain information which may influence the case proceedings.
    But once the judgment is given all the case details should be provided for whosoever and for whatsoever purpose it may serve.

    non-security activities of the Ministry of Defence:

    This also should be included in RTI as Disclosure of non-security activities information will not be of any security threat or social threat to the country. Because other than the security part is concerned, Defence Ministry also is of Equi-status as any other Ministry in the Government and need to be transparent.

    The Executive head of the States should be exempted as they do not hold any “Office of Profit”.

    RTI has enabled people to participate in the process of development, which has resulted in reduction of corruption. It has just begun to happen for the first time for establishing an open and participatory governance system that protects and promotes the socio-economic interests of every citizen, particularly the poor, who are receiving the benefits of development as per their entitlements.

    The appropriate implementation of the Right to Information Act will make the governance not only more transparent but also more relevant and useful for “We the People”. In the long run it would not only strengthen and promote democracy; but would build a free and fair society.

    Note I am not mentioning 2G and CWG,Adarsh scams , as most of us already aware of it and keshav too has already mentioned.

    Hi all, As Its One Big topic with 5 questions Needed a quite Descriptive answers. I have tried my best to reduce the no of words as to be precise in my Comments.

    All your replies in regard to my comments are welcome.

  3. I am very happy at the analysis by Chanderraj. I suggest that all should read it in detail. I wanted such a complete discussion. Keshav has approached the topic as if he is in haste. There can be no running away from any issue.

    Participants must also deal with the role of the Civil Society in exposing the Government.

    In particular we need to know more about what is being done on the black money front.

  4. According to me RTI Act is really a powerful weapon in the hands of the people. Instances like
    1> Able to identify Finance ministry involvement in 2G spectrum scam.
    2> In Karnataka, RTI helped to identify huge misuse of power in land denotification by ministers.

    Even judges must come under this act, except defense strategies. Defense non strategies scam like Adarsha housing scam in Mumbai.

    Non-security activities of the Ministry of Defence must be included under RTI Act.

    According to me only below pointed things/persons can be exempted from the purview of the RTI Act.
    1> Defense people in front-line.
    2> Defense strategies against enemies.
    3> Some key defense arms developments and strategies must not be revealed before completion of project.

    Thank you.

    1. The Act provides for exemption from disclosure of information in certain cases under section8(1) (a) to 8(1)(j)
      Personal information is exempt under section 8(1)(j) This
      includes information sought on a govt. servants assets and liabilities. This is to prevent blackmailing of govt. servants.

  5. A lot of discussion these days is centered on how RTI is a powerful tool in the hands of the people and how the act has revolutionised the concept of accountability and transparency in governance of the country. The concept of a Right to Information is a step in the right direction to tap the power of a citizen of the country to gather any information from the Government or seek any information from government documents and materials. Any citizen of the country irrespective of caste, creed, age or language can submit an application to the PIO and get the information required by within 30 days. Thereby, all information is within the reach of the common man. This process is aimed at breaking the barriers between the government and the citizen of the country and empowers the citizen to be a part of the whole governance process.

    In the process, a formal legislation was formulated and passed by the government called as the Right to Information Act, 2005 laying down clearly all the information which cannot be gathered by the citizen of the country. After coming into force, the power of the act has basically helped in unearthing large number of scams at the government level and corruption cases have been filed against a number of civil servants, bureaucrats and politicians.

    At this juncture, taking into consideration all the euphoria surrounding the RTI Act, I pose forward the following queries –
    a. Did the RTI, which incidentally was a first step towards transparency and accountability, accidently go 10 steps further than intended?
    b. Is the RTI Act putting too much information accessible to the common citizen?
    c. Is the law, in a practical scenario, hampering the decision making ability of the bureaucrats and other civil servants?
    d. In what way is the RTI protecting the rights of integral and duty bound bureaucrats and civil servants against whom allegations have been levelled based on RTI applications?
    e. Will the RTI become a tool of harassment for blackmailers and drug peddlers?
    f. And finally, is the country actually ready for such a draconian law?

    There is little doubt that the RTI Act, 2005 is one of the most draconian legislations passed in the history of the Indian Parliament. The term draconian should be interpreted not in terms of personal opinion, but in terms of rigidity of the structure of the Act and the problems it can pose to the country at the stage where the development of the country must progress to the next level. At a time when the ex-CJI of the country is being investigated of corruption charges, the exclusion of judges from the purview of the RTI act shows that the act is still incomplete.

    I am not forgetting the contributions made by the RTI in exposing scams at a national level. But as future bureaucrats, it is high time to view the act at a much broader level and analyse the issues faced on account of power of the act in the hands of the undeserving and incompetent people.

  6. Shailesh Gandhi, the outgoing Central Information commissioner rightly remarked that the biggest enemy of the RTI act is the Information commission itself. This is due to the following reasons.
    a) If a citizen did not get information in 30 days he could easily file a appeal before the Commission on the grounds that the Public information officer has refused to give/given improper information. The provision of appeal choked the
    Information commissions with hundreds of appeals leaving the First appellate authority in an organisation reduntant..
    Now with the Supreme court decision a citizen should first exhaust his remedy with the First appellate authority and then approach the Commission in second appeal.
    This has left unheard pending first appeals in the commission and defeated the purpose of getting the information on time.
    b) The Commissions insist on the party being present, frequent adjournments and bias towards the PIOs who are Govt. servants and refusing to penalise them for delay
    defeats the purpose of getting information on time.
    c) RTI appeals are concentrated in the cities major dept.
    and very few applications are from rural areas. Inspite of
    huge sums available for propogation very little is done by the DOPT which is the nodal agency.

Leave a Reply

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

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.