The Right to Information (RTI) Act, enacted on October 12, 2005, initially played a crucial role in unveiling scandals and promoting systemic reforms. However, there is a pressing need for significant adjustments to the RTI rules to prevent misuse and reduce challenges to decisions by the Central Information Commission (CIC) in courts.
GS2- Important Aspects of Governance, Transparency and Accountability
There is a pressing need for significant adjustments to the RTI rules to prevent misuse and reduce challenges to decisions by the Central Information Commission (CIC) in courts.Analyse. (15 marks, 250 words).
Reforms Needed in Various Aspects:
|Bringing more bodies under the act:||To save the valuable time of Information Commissions and courts, the central government should issue a notification declaring all public-private partnerships, sports bodies, cooperative societies, and similar entities as well as public authorities under the RTI Act.|
|Land to be categorized as public authorities:||The Land and Building Departments of central and state governments should examine cases of subsidized land or government accommodations and categorize them as public authorities under the RTI Act.|
In the future, providing land or government accommodations at subsidized rates should be contingent on beneficiaries falling under the purview of the RTI Act.
|Private Sector Banks:||Given the substantial involvement of public funds in private sector banks, it is essential to bring all private sector banks under the ambit of the RTI Act.|
This is especially relevant as all employees, including the highest-ranking post of CMD, are considered public servants according to the Banking Regulation Act.
Transparency is crucial, as highlighted by incidents of financial mismanagement and misuse of public funds in private banks.
|RTI fees:||Sections 27 and 28 of the RTI Act empower Competent Authorities and state governments to formulate their own rules, including determining RTI fees.|
The Supreme Court’s ruling in 2018 capped the maximum RTI fee at fifty rupees. To ensure uniformity, India should adopt the principle of “One Nation-One Rule” for RTI fees, setting a standard fee of fifty rupees throughout the country, inclusive of the first twenty copied pages. Additionally, no fees should be levied for filing First or Second Appeals.
|Accessibility boost:||To streamline the payment of RTI fees, special RTI stamps in denominations of 2, 10, and 50 rupees could replace postal orders.|
These stamps should be readily available at post offices and public authority counters.
Acceptance of post-free RTI applications at a larger number of post offices would enhance accessibility and efficiency.
|Easy and effective Filing:||Requiring ID proof to be attached to every RTI application, First Appeal, and petition filed with Information Commissions, as mandated by certain states, should be implemented nationwide.|
The use of online portals for RTI applications should be improved to facilitate automatic email notifications of responses and First Appellate Authorities’ orders, reducing the need for applicants to search the portal for updates.
|Streamlining the legislation:||Mandating uniform websites designed by the National Informatics Centre (NIC) for central public authorities in all states would enhance consistency and efficiency. States should consider repealing acts like the Delhi Right To Information Act, 2001, as the RTI Act, 2005, now takes precedence.|
In conclusion, amending and enhancing the RTI rules is imperative to maintain the Act’s effectiveness, prevent misuse, and promote transparency and accountability in governance.