Hmm.. The Right to Information (RTI) bill was passed at last in the parliament .. I was following it since NAC recommended to modify the Freedom of Information Act 2002 … Now that it has been cleared let us have a close look at the act .. its features .. and its flaws …
What is it actually ?
Under this act, the people now have a legal right to access information in the form of files, reports and data about the government’s proceedings enabling them to question the government..The RTI act introduces Central Information Commission which is an independent appellate authority which will have the Prime Minister and the Leader of Opposition on its appointment committee.. It will appoint Chief Information Commissioner and 10 Information Commissioners on the lines of Election Commission. There will be an Assistant Information officer for each department who will act as a bridge between people and the departments. The officers who fail to provide or delay the information will have to pay the penalty as a portion of his own salary .If he gives wrong information, there is another fine … People can have access to any record or document with an exemption of matters of national security .. The people living in rural or remote areas wont have to come to state capitals to get the information they want .. They will have to approach their local municipal authorities as Block Development offices to get the information they want.. So far it all looks good…
How will it help ..?
The biggest problem in our country is corruption .. Corruption stays because there is a lack of accountability and transparency in the government and bureaucracy … Lack of accessibility is another problem .. This right will strike on the roots of these problems .. And while as the concerned officer will be fined on a per day basis, there will be pressure on him to gather the information required in due time ..
Can it be improved ..?
Nothing is perfect .. The final bill is actually a lot different than the draft proposed by NCPRI .. The Chief Justice of India is left out of Appointment Committee which could’ve have ensured an unbiased opinion.. Earlier there was a clause for imprisonment of failing officers but now it seems to be diluted too .. The ‘third party’ clause is a trivial one .. .. The PM can nominate a cabinet minister of his choice to the committee ….And according to Official Secrets Act, some information can be classified as of relating to national security and can be denied .. And these are the ones that I have found .. A legal person can pinpoint more than these ..
Any suggestions ..?
Yupp .. That’s why I wrote this whole thing .. Although I see this as a positive step towards accountability and transparency, I feel its not such sufficient ..I see it as a small step towards a big goal .. The next step should be to remove the flaws .. I feel there should be no exemptions and the penalty should be heavier .. And why just stop at Right to freedom ..? I feel that it should be changed to Duty to Inform .. Just as the companies have to display their financial position every year publicly, why govt. departments should be spared ..? This should become compulsory to publish each department about their performance, proceedings and state of affairs .. yearly .. or better on monthly basis … And yeah.. The language of the reports should be as that a common citizen can understand .. Complicated jargon serves the purpose to hide details …
So .. ?
So .. I am thinking about getting a report from our local Municipal Corp. why the roads haven’t built in our colony even after 21 years of its existence .. Let see what comes out ..