Right to Information (RTI) Act emerged as a powerful instrument for taming corruption in the functioning of public authorities by promoting transparency and accountability. The Act has completed ten years but the challenges hindering the successful implementation of the Act are still looming large. The Act is slowly moving away from its goal owing to many factors, such as lack of awareness, improper maintenance of records, poor compliance to public disclosure of information mentioned under Section 4 of the Act, inconvenient fee depositing mechanism, lack of sustained training mechanism for employees, misuse of the Act, pendency of appeals before Information Commissions and lack of legislative measures for protection of whistle-blowers.
For making the Act a success, it is essential to conduct massive awareness campaigns for citizens, to maintain proper official records for facilitating provision of information under the Act, ensuring suo motu disclosure of information mentioned under Section 4 of the Act, use of information and communication technology in the implementation of the Act, making available convenient fee depositing options, conducting training programmes for officials involved in the implementation of the Act, and, finally, enacting a strong whistle-blower’s protection Act.
Information is an inalienable and natural right of every human being. In a democratic country each person has the right to freedom of opinion and expression. This right includes right of holding public opinion and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas from the public authorities. The available and appropriate information helps citizen to live a dignified life in a civilized society. Moreover, there is a close link between right to information and good governance. Good governance is characterized by transparency, accountability and responsiveness. Consequently, the citizen’s right to information is increasingly being recognized as an important mechanism to promote openness, transparency and accountability in government administration. People are the sole part in a representative form of government. So, it is necessary that they must have to know all the functioning of government activities to frame a practical regime of good governance in administrative process.
In India Right to Information is the need of hour. Human security, shelter, food, environment and employment opportunity are all bound up with right to information. In the absence of information on this issue, people cannot live a dignified life and will remain ever marginalized group in the society. It is a powerful instrument to protect the fundamental rights of people. Corruption and criminalization are the nerve of Indian bureaucracy today. The secrecy they have maintained is a source of corruption and harassment. Though India is the world largest democracy, it now fails to attain confidence from common people. As a taxpayer, each person should have the right to know the functioning of government machinery. In addition to this, in a democratic country, citizen can be regarded asset only when citizen develop the skill to gain access to information of all kinds and to put such information to effective use. Without intellectual freedom the success of democratic governance cannot be imagined. Information is now the sole of every government. The need for transparency and efficiency in the governance become more important to achieve the goal of good governance.
OBJECT OF RTI ACT: –
The basic object of the Right to Information Act is to empower the citizens, promote transparency and accountability in the working of the Government, contain corruption, and make our democracy work for the people in real sense. It goes without saying that an informed citizen is better equipped to keep necessary vigil on the instruments of governance and make the government more accountable to the governed. The Act is a big step towards making the citizens informed about the activities of the Government.
RIGHT TO INFORMATION ACT AND THE GOOD GOVERNANCE: –
The right to information act is a path making legislation which brings to light the secrecy of administration. It is an effective means to promote democratic ideology. The act is powerful instrument to fight against corruption. By realizing this significance the Second Administrative Reform Commission had prepared a detailed blueprint for revamping the public administrative system. The second Administrative Reform Commission, government of India has published its first report in ―Right to Information: Master key to good governance.‖ Through this report the commission directly mentioned that access to information can empower the poor and weaker sections of society to demand and government information about public policies and actions, thereby led to welfare of all.
Good governance and right to information are complimentary to each other. A nation whatever form of government it pursues must fulfil the aspirations of common man. Good governance is the only avenue, which can provide guaranty the life of individuals. Good governance is characterized by- political accountability, availability of freedom, bureaucratic accountability, availability of information, effectiveness, efficiency, law abiding citizen and cooperation between government and society. As such the Right to information is a natural corollary of good governance. The enactment of RTI act 2005 introduces an open and transparent government and gives every citizen right to seek and receive information to make administration more responsible and transparent which means good governance. So, World Bank once rightly remarked, ―Right to information is an integral part of good governance.
RIGHT TO INFORMATION ACT- CHALLENGES: –
Since came into force on 15th June, 2005 Right to Information act has been successfully working in most of the Indian states. The act is enacted by the state government of Tamil Nadu (1997), Rajasthan (2000), Delhi (2001), Maharashtra (2002), Karnataka (2002), Assam (2002), Madhya Pradesh (2003), and Jammu & Kashmir (2004). Research studies shows that in their operation area the Right to Information act has been facing many severe challenges. These are: –
- Low level of awareness among people is the major challenge before successful implementation of Right to Information act. People, particularly in remote areas are not concerned with the Right to Information act. The research studies observe that the major sources of awareness are – (1) Mass media like- television channels, newspapers, magazines, journals etc. (2) Word of mouth. The nodal agency specifically the state government has not taken any potential step to promote Right to Information act.
- (b) Illiteracy and poverty is another major challenge before successful implementation of Right to Information act. Right to Information act has does not have any meaning for a Persons who does not have enough money to live, who is not educated and who does not have freedom. In fact, their first requirement is the right to live (right to eat, right to work and right to shelter) and then Right to Information.
- (c) Most of the uneducated even educated peoples do not have the proper knowledge about public Information officers, the procedure of paying fees and to get information.
- (d) Non-availability of user guide is another main challenge before successful RTI act implementation. Absence of user guide creates difficulty on the part of the Information seekers to gather knowledge about the process for submitting a RTI request.
- (e) Lack of commitment in efficient record management both state and central government instructions posing challenge before successful implementation of RTI act.
- (f) Due to the lack of efficient record management system, the public Information Officers face difficulty to get accurate and easy access of information from the concerned department, so that it can be provided to information seekers.
Thus it can be rightly mentioned that Right to Information act is an agent of good governance. It makes administration more accountable to the people. It makes people aware of administration and gives them an opportunity to take part in decision making process. It promoted democratic ideology by promoting openness and transparency in the administration. It reduces the chances of corruption and abuse of authority by public servants. Since the act is prepared for people‘s interest, hence it success also depends on how they exercise the act. Moreover, there is need active participation from people, NGO‘s, civil society groups, coordination among RTI officials, integrity among government departments and political will from government and elected leaders.
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