Updated: Jun 19
Author: SHAMBHAWI UPADHYAY,
Banasthali Vidyapith, Rajasthan
Right to Information Act, 2005 helps to access the information which is a vital instrument of societal transformation. Our country India is a democratic country, it means participation by the people in the public affairs. RTI is a powerful tool which provides a strong support to democracy and encourages good governance and it can provide remarkable social benefits. RTI also acts as an obstacle against the arbitrary exercise of public powers. It plays a key role in the governance of the country. In most of the countries, RTI Act has set out to be an effectual watchdog ensuring all those coming in purview of the Act to work in accordance with rules and regulations, without any instabilities. It also ensures greater clarity regarding all the work of the government. It sanctions the citizen’s ability to participate effectively and hold government official accountable.
The Right to Information Act, 2005 was passed on 15 June 2005 by Parliament and came into being on 13 October 2005. RTI is the fundamental right which is given in our Indian Constitution under Article 19(1)(a). under this article it was mentioned that there if freedom of speech and expression to every citizen of this country which indirectly gives the right to know. The Right to Information provides full involvement of people in the process of governance and administration which becomes inescapable. The RTI act empowers Indian citizens against administrative corruption, irregularities and irresponsive attitude of administrative machinery. Through this act, the citizens of India have been empowered to question, inspect, analysis, survey and assess the government acts and decisions so as to ensure that these are consistent with the principle of public interest, good governance and justice. The notion of Right to Information started taking shape in 1970’s liberal interpretation by the judiciary in various fundamental rights specially the right to freedom of speech and expression. The basic motive of this right of freedom of speech and expression is that all members of society should be able to form their beliefs and transfer them freely to others. The fundamental principle which is involved here is right to know. In order to promote transparency and responsibility in the working of every public authority, the RTI act has enacted.
The public militarization against corruption started with the RTI. The culture of secrecy, as known, encourages the government officials to indulge in corrupt practices. Because of this it results in lower investments due to misuse of power and diversion of funds for private purposes. As a result, the government’s social spending yields no worthwhile benefits, because, for example, the teachers do not teach, the nurses do not attend health centers, thus, livelihood support is denied, and the promised jobs are not provided to the poor, who are guaranteed of income support. In the process, it prolongs poverty and harms the poor. It creates an environment of disbelief between the people and the government, which impinge upon the development and endanger democratic governance.
Once Tarjana Susawat said that:
“Corruption is a weed, whose influence on crops is of an immeasurable; they spread everywhere.”
Corruption is a widespread problem which is faced by people that leads to a lack of transparency, accountability, institutional machinery and information. It refers to the misuse of power and money by government and individuals for their personal profit. One of the best examples of corruption is lobbying or diverting the funds in private sectors which are for public welfare. Corruption bribes the selfishness of the person by showing easy way to get success and luxurious life. It is the problem that threatens transparency in the system of government like a weed in crops and accountability of citizens but where the problem there is also a solution that is RTI.
The legislation on RTI can act like an antidote to vested interests which try to conceal or misinterpret information or which try to manipulate the media directly or indirectly to plant misinformation. It provides to get information from the government. Through Right to Information, we can expose corruption. Through the RTI we can ask for information about the work being done in our area. Right to Information has been part of the anti-corruption or state modernization agendas.
HOW IT IMPACTS THE ROOTS OF CORRUPTION
1. Transparency: Transparency means disturbance created in government institutions from hiding the basic information regarding the public interest from the public that leads to corruption. Information regarding budget, regulation, survey, various schemes whatever the government has announced. It should be open to public. This Act also imposes certain reasonable restrictions that the people have to maintain all the records in a manner so that it should be easy for them to access within a reasonable time under this act by making it computerized and provide it on the internet. All the information which is necessary and related to the public authority should be published within one hundred and twenty days from the enactment of this act. The information should be communicated to the public so that it will be accessible for them.
2. Accessibility: Before the ratification of RTI only parliament members have the right to ask for any information to the government. It encourages the common people to seek to government for information. Because of RTI it makes easy to access information for the information seekers. Those who want to seek information regarding any provision made by the government, they can make a request through a written form or via internet. For the illiterate or mentally disabled people, Public Information Officer has bound to give the assistance to the person making the request orally to commute the same in writing. If anything is prohibited under this act then no one can seek the information.
3. Affordability: Whether a citizen is rich or poor, RTI made the information very affordable for them. According to the provision of this act, no public authority can charge more than 50 Rs.
4. Less time consuming: Public authority agents are bound to provide information to every information seeker. No general people can seek and get and they will be given the information. But after the enactment of this act, within thirty days the information will be provided. No one can deny and bound by law to provide information to information seeker.
RTI and transparency in the government system are particularly important to eradicate corruption. Right to Information is the collective attempt of various non-profit organizations and Activists.
After the enactment of this act, it became easy for the Social Activists and Civil Society Organization to eradicate corruption in the interest of the public to promote transparency and accountability in the government. RTI encourages the active participation of citizens in democracy through providing the information to information seekers. Indeed, Right to Information has proved to be an effective tool for generating transparency and curbing the uncontrolled corruption in the working of various public offices. The society has developed due to this act.
Right to Information laws also known as sunshine laws. It grants the citizens of India the legal right to access information held by their governments.
CASES OF RIGHT TO INFORMATION ACT
Commonwealth Games Scam: RTI was filed by a non-profit organization and it was revealed that the Delhi government had diverted rs.744 crore from funds intended for the welfare of the Dalit community to the Commonwealth Games. Housing and Land Rights Network a non-profit body also found that the most the diverted funds were spent on amenities that are only on paper to show, suggesting further corruption and money laundering.
It is cleared enough from the above information that RTI has the complete ability to tackle and eradicate corruption. It is not easy at all to eradicate corruption, but we can try through the RTI Act. To promote transparency and accountability the RTI Act has been used as an effective instrument. In today’s world, RTI is a strong tool to uphold the spirit of democracy. The need of the hour is that the RTI Act should be implemented to ensure that the objects of the RTI Act are fulfilled. It is a significant and desired right which empowers the citizens to fight corruption. They government should use this right to know effectively in making corruption free India not to hinder national development and integration or to decimate the peace and consistency among its citizens. For a developed country, it is necessary that the government should accountable to the people. Everyone should have the right to question their government by filing RTI applications. When everyone will aware then there will be no corruption!