- Intro on right to information.
- Briefly mention the objectives of this Act.
- Mention the advantages.
- Mention the disadvantages.
Right to Information is a basic human right. The RTI Act 2005 has empowered the citizens to beseech public authorities for any information on governmental affairs, while exempting certain classified information. In the People’s Union for Civil Liberties vs UOI (2004), the Supreme Court had observed, “Right to Information is a facet of the freedom of speech & expression as contained in Article 19(1)(a), thus, undisputedly it is a fundamental right”.
Objectives of the Act : (a) empower the citizens to seek information as a matter of right; (b) maintain transparency to check large-scale corruption in the system; (c) demand greater accountability on the part of public authorities; and (d) escalate citizen awareness regarding government functioning & decision-making.
- Transparency : it ensures that citizens would be able to know about governmental activities, creating room for better communication between public authorities and the citizenry.
- It ensures a citizen-centric approach and prevents any whimsical actions on the part of the government.
- It can help prevent both coercive and collusive corruption.
- All these raises public accountability and reaffirms the trust in public bodies.
- Difficulty of the people to access the Public Information Officers (PIOs), which results in difficulty to gain information promptly.
- Due to non-applicability of locus-standi rules and non-requirement of reasons, it is observed that RTI Act is often misused by petitioners.
- There is low public awareness on their rights and duties.
- Due to overburdened applications, sometimes, the quality of information gets compromised. Also, due to insufficient number of Information Commissioners, there is a high backlog and delay in hearing cases. Moreover, the Act does not provide any time limit within which the second appeal to Chief Information Commissioner must be heard.
- There is centralization of power by the RTI (Amendment) Act 2019, which has hampered the autonomy of CIC.
- There is issue of enforceability – Information Commissions can give directions to public authorities to take necessary steps to comply with the Act, but are not empowered to take any action if such directions are ignored.
- The free flow of information remains restricted by the Official Secrets Act 1923, which the RTI cannot override.
The RTI is a step towards good governance, which seeks to strengthen the vibrancy of the democratic process in India. Disseminating public information holds critical to the success of participative development model, which remains a much elusive goal. So, free flow of information is to be encouraged to make India transform into an Information society – the bedrock of knowledge economy.