The Right to Information Act: Ten Years of Transparency or a Decade of Ambiguity
13 Pages Posted: 1 Sep 2015
Date Written: August 31, 2015
The Right to Information Act passed in 2005 provided a ray of hope for common people as it promises transparency and accountability in governance and captured the imagination of masses soon. The law has a potential to be a crucial catalyst in challenging the power equation between the common masses and the ruling classes besides curtailing corruption. The object to create this Act was to serve a larger public interest to question the age old hierarchical traditional system of governance and to strengthen foundation for a true participatory democracy. However, the assessment of ten years of its implementation reveals that many promises remain unfulfilled. The law has failed to benefit citizens as recently the bureaucratic apparatus is creating hurdles in its smooth implementation. Instead of empowering citizens, the law has been operated in a manner to exclude majority of populace. The widening polarity between the givers and the receivers of information is creating a hindrance in smooth functioning of democracy. The RTI (Right to Information) is rather gradually becoming an OTI (Obstruction to Information) where the giver of the information no longer is willingly parting the required information rather the giver is trying to utilize all the armaments to prevent sharing the same. What is being shared is propaganda where partial information is shared to influence the audiences by selectively presenting the facts to produce emotional rather than the rational response to the political or a social situation. In the age of information and technology, when the usable, relevant and timely information should be proactively disclosed by the public authorities, often they end up denying transparency and accountability by withholding the required pertinent information. The usability from the perspective of the information seeker is often lacking and RTI has failed to become a user friendly law. The backlash against RTI by government and judiciary is further hampering the citizen’s fundamental right to know. To counter such denial and hostility by the bureaucratic machinery, the civil society and citizens have to find innovative ways and means so that RTI truly serves the purpose of ending corruption and facilitate better governance.
Keywords: RTI, Right to Information, Governance, Act, Democracy, transparency, citizen, India, freedom of information, corruption, secrecy, opacity
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