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Impact Of RTI On Indian Administration

The "Right to Information Act 2005" is reflected to be the utmost rightful law in India as it involves an active participation of the People in the matters pertaining to the government. It can be said that RTI [Right to Information] has developed a sense of security and trust among the people regarding the government. With an active participation of people and their involvement in every aspect it can be said that now India truly has a democratic form of government.

The RTI act allows every citizen to access information that they find necessary. Also it becomes important for the citizen to be keep themselves updated with whatever things going on in the government, As the citizens are the direct sufferers of the consequences that take place with the decisions of the government. So it becomes necessary that they are informed and given an opportunity to express their opinions on any decision or policy formulated by the government.

Due to the enactment of RTI there has been a positive atmosphere of accountability and transparency between the Government officials and the citizens. And this positive change has led to a better working of governmental organs and achieve the role of an ideal form of government.

Introduction
"Information is a basic human right and the fundamental foundation for the formation of democratic institutions" - Nelson Mandela.

Prior to the enactment of RTI act in India the situation was totally different from what is now. The people felt excluded and became ignorant towards the policies of the government as they had no say in any socio-political decisions that were made by the government. They felt that the government was keeping things secret from them thereby not involving them or even informing them about the policies that were formulated.

This gave the people the impression that as citizens of the country, they had every single right to know about the government's current affairs and that their voices should be heard as all the decisions that were being formulated were for the citizens only and they were the sufferers of the consequences of the decisions or policies that were formulated therefore, they have all the right to be informed about various matters.

However with the growing consciousness of the people regarding the democratic form of government that India has and their desire to know and participate in the matters pertaining to the country or even for themselves there was a strong need to ensure that their needs and expectations are fulfilled and this was possible only by adopting the principle of Accountability and transparency in the administration.

During that time there was a need to disperse information and for that originally the "Right to Information act" was legislated in Sweden in the year 1766, followed by USA in 1996 and thereby Norway in the year 1970. While other democracies like France, Netherland, New-Zealand, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Greece, Austria, Italy enacted their own laws.

Talking about "RTI" in India the Constitution in its Article 19 [1] {a} directly promises the right to know but somehow this right was overshadowed by the Official Secrets Act in 1923 and this led to a phase were the entire government functioning was guarded by secrecy.

In this scenario the Indian Judiciary played a vital role by upholding the spirit of democracy, in its some of the very landmark judgements like S.P. Gupta vs The Union of India[1], the court apprehended that the people have the right to know about the functioning of the government.

Many such decisions of the court laid emphasis on the importance of fundamental right to know and access the information. Such judicial pronouncements led to the enactment of The Freedom of Information Act, 2002. But there were some serious restrictions in this act that led to difficulty in achieving the objective of accountability and transparency. That is when The Freedom of Information Act of 2002 was replaced by the Access to Information Act of 2005.

With the enactment of RTI act, the people felt included as this act enabled them to have access over the information's regarding various matters or policies of the government. Also, along with getting access to information's they got an opportunity to raise their voices in various social, political or economic decisions taken by the government.

In India, the privilege to data is viewed as a resident driven and change-situated resolution. . It impacts the Government in keeping up straightforwardness in the working of the Public foundations by appropriate disclosure of data and keeping up the records endorsed under the RTI act.it empowers the citizens against the miss-functioning of government organs like Corruption, irregularities and irresponsible attitude of administrative machineries.

The Participation of the People is considered to be very much important for the successful working of the government and RTI provides them that opportunity and power to participate in the matters pertaining to the government.

Impact of RTI on Administration

The RTI act itself indicates its true meaning that is the right to access information regarding the formulation of policies and various other decisions of the government. Taking into account how resident driven this demonstration is the working of public foundations, data's in regards to government rulebooks and conventions, individuals just as the organization is profoundly impacted by this demonstration.

The RTI authorizes the people to fight against the growing nature of corruption and various misconception that takes place due to false practices and misuse of powers by the Public authorities and for this the citizens are provided an authority to question, review, and examine the government decisions so, that they're very much involved and the government ensures that they implement decisions and formulate policies that are in the Public eye, governance and Uprightness.

The "Right to Information" is a legislation that has benefited a large number of people. Considering the fact that this act is enacted since the year 2005 still, the process of getting access to the information remains difficult creating a perceptible and imperceptible impression on the organization as well as the society. Moreover, it has demonstrated to be very valuable in acquiring authoritative reports like visas, apportion cards, benefits, birth and passing testaments, and annual assessment forms. Individuals living in destitution have utilized this enactment for their potential benefit.

Under this act the public authorities are liable to disclose certain information's via Publications of relevant documents at regular interims through numerous means of communication that includes internet also.

Though all the government organizations fall under the RTI act, yet there are certain Organizations that are exempted from this act. These institutions are the Intelligence agencies, Central economic- intelligence bureau, Narcotics control bureau, police in Andaman and Nicobar, Lakshadweep and Dadhanagar Haveli. All things being equal, if the board decides the litigant's anxiety is connected to an instance of debasement or common liberties infringement, the associations should give subtleties.

The Citizens are allowed the following rights under this Act:

  1. Taking notes, extracts qualified copies of the official papers or registers.
  2. Collecting qualified tester of materials
  3. Information in electronic mode is also accessible.
  4. Inspection of work, documents, records.
  5. In most cases, the applicant may receive details within 30 days of making the request.
  6. If the matter concerns a person's life or liberty, details may be accessed within 48 hours of the order.
  7. Certain information is prohibited for security reasons.

The RTI act has benefited a lot but the major benefit that has taken place due to this act is the reduction of bribery in the government sectors. In the lack of the RTI act the government officials were encouraged to practice corruption as there was no transparency or accountability during that time, Therefore it caused a circumstance of skepticism between the general public and the public authority. This wonders brought about the extension of popularity based government.

The RTI act stimulates proficiency in forming strategies, selection of appropriate programmes to achieve objectives of government. Its major contribution is the role it played in reducing the problem of corruption slowly.

There is this report called the CPI:
Corruption Perception Index through which the corruption rate of India and other countries, their positions, ranking and scoring can be analysed. The ranking can also be done on the observation of how corrupt the police sectors are of the countries.

Concept of Good Governance

In India we have a vote based type of government. Where the government is of the people, for the people, by the people. The participation of people in government affairs is very much important for a good governance, while other sources like transparency, legitimacy, and accountability form a good pillar of good governance.

Since the people play an important role in the good governance they are entitled to know about the policies, rules formulated by the government. Their participation in a way ensures that they're very much involved and alert in the matters of the government.

When the people are included in the matters of government or kept informed they develop a sense of confidence and security for their government which creates a level of transparency between the people and the government.

There has to be transparency and representation of all the issues of the government, merely representing some selected issues isn't a true representation, there is a need to involve all the sections of the society and hear their concern as well. There is a need for openness of the government and the Right to Information provides the same to them. However, There are certain departments of the Union government that can't be inspected by the people. While on other hand there are many public and private affairs that can be easily accessed by the people.

The RTI in a way restrains the practices of government employees in doing corruption. It keeps the people accountable for all the actions and In a way it is in the best interest of the citizen as well as the government. Accountability in a way completes the requisites of a good governance, in its absence it becomes impossible to identify the failure of government policies whether it is public or private sector.

How is RTI related to good governance?

Right to Information is very much linked with good governance as it includes all the aspects that are required in making a good governance. It wouldn't be wrong to say that RTI is an effective tool in order to attain a good governance.

The people being an integral part of the governing process, it is their right to get informed/ or access their right to information in any matters that pertain to the government after all the main aim of the democratic government is the welfare of the people. Also the same is with the citizens they also aim and work towards the welfare and development of the country.

The citizens for the development of the nation contribute to the income of government by paying taxes. Therefore, they have the right to inquire if the taxes that they being a responsible citizen pay are being utilized for the benefit of the nation or not. This right to inquire is provided to the people under the RTI Act. Not only do they have right to access information or inquire on certain matters but they also have right to make use of any legal actions if they find and inconsistency or false reports regarding a certain information.

Talking about the pillars of good governance Accountability and Transparency in the system is a must. As mentioned in this article that RTI provides the citizens a greater transparency regarding the working of the public affairs. Under section 2 [J] of the act the people are provided access to all the kinds of documents.

The Authorities are mandated under section 4 of this act to provide reason for all the administrative decisions that are being formulated, also it includes another provision whereby the person for filling an application under this act doesn't need to provide any unnecessary information to file it neither does he need to provide any reasons to request for the application.

There are certain penalties decided for those people who hinders the flowing of information freely or denies giving any information. This process of penalties as a result helps in reducing the unjust and arbitrary process, enabling a healthy democratic environment but also helps in curbing the use of corruption. It becomes more flexible and efficient to catch hold of a specific person who is responsible and to take necessary actions against him.

The Second Pillar of a good governance can be called Participation of the people- The participation of the people plays a significant role in the democratic form of government as the people have their own say in the formulation of the policies, implementation of the programmes or even the legislative functions as it affects the people on every level.

Even those people who aren't that much affected with these policies have the right to keep their opinion and express them. It can be said that the participation of the people play a crucial role for the good and effective governance.

While prior to the year 2005 the situation was totally different from what it is now because at that time the participation of people was very less as they had very little information even regarding the policies that were formulated for them therefore, they had no say regarding those matters.

Much after the implementation of RTI in 2005 the gap has been filled between the people and the government making them connected on a transparent level. The main motive behind the enactment of RTI act is to provide people an opportunity to actively participate and raise their voices.

Without the involvement of the people it would totally fail in achieving the principle of good and transparent governance. Also this act never encourages biasedness towards people on the basis of their status, religion or any other factor.

Important Judicial pronouncements relating to the RTI

In order to understand how this right came into effect it becomes essential to analyse the various aspects in which this right was given effect by the judiciary. Some important judicial pronouncements have been mentioned herewith to highlight the various facets relating to the Right to Information.
  1. Bennet Coleman vs Union of India:
    Where in The right to know was considered as a fundamental right consequently the Supreme Court also held that the right to freedom of speech and expression guaranteed under Article 19 [1] [a] included the right to information.
     
  2. In State of U.P vs Raj Narain:
    It was held by Justice mathew that " it is not in the notice of the public to cover with a veil of secrecy the common routine business´┐Ż it is the duty of the officials to explain and to justify their acts is the chief safeguard against oppression and corruption.
     
  3. In S.P Gupta vs Union of India Gupta vs Union of India:
    The Apex court illustrated that the privilege of individuals to think about each open demonstration and subtleties of each open exchanges embraced by open functionaries.
     
  4. In People's Union for Civil liberties vs Union of India:
    The RTI was raised to the situation with a common liberty, which is needed for open and responsible administration.

Some landmark Judgements relating to RTI Act

Union of India v. Association for Democratic Reforms 2002:

In this case the, the court was seeing the width and generosity of the right to information about candidates contesting for the elections of the Parliament or State legislature in the context of citizen's right to vote. The court while dealing with this case held that under the Indian Constitution electors had the fundamental right to know the antecedents of the candidates that are contesting in elections to hold public office.

The Court read 'right to be informed' as right flowing from freedom of speech and expression. The Elections commission was directed to secure affidavits by candidates recording all particulars relating to past or pending criminals charges or cases against them. This affidavit included information regarding if the candidate was acquitted/convicted/discharged of any criminal offence in the past and if convicted information regarding the Quantum of punishment that was awarded.

Another Important thing was that whether prior six months of filing for nominations, the candidate was accused of an offence punishable with minimum 2 years of imprisonment. Since this judgement, the disclosures of criminal antecedents, educational qualifications and assets have been made mandatory under Representation of People's Act, 1951.

Reserve Bank of India v. Jayantilal Mistry

The matter before the court in this case was whether the Reserve Bank of India as well as other banks can deny information sought by the public on the ground of economic interest commercial confidence, fiduciary relationship with other Bank on the one hand and the Public interest on the other hand, and if not, to what extent can the information be provided by the Banks under the right to information act, 2005?

Answering the question in the negative, the court held that the RBI was to act in the interest of the Public at large for it is statutory duty of the Reserve Bank to comply with the provisions of the Right to Information Act, 2005. The court rejected the argument that information could be withheld in view of the fiduciary relationship with other banks and held that the RBI doesn't place itself in a fiduciary relationship with the Financial institutions because, the reports of the inspections statements of the bank, information related to the business obtained by the RBI are not under the pretext of confidence or trust.

Conclusion:
The RTI act is a unique legislation that allows the public to access information and provides the same position to a common man as it provides to the MP, MLA or any member within the authority to seek accountability and appropriation regarding the functions of government.

Unlike other acts this act too has certain limitations like it has certain issues and challenges in its implementation especially in the downtrodden areas as the literacy rate of India is quite low therefore it becomes difficult to implement this Act fully. So therefore the process of filing an application for RTI should be more simplified.

Since the RTI provides good governance and inclusive development. The people should be made aware of the benefits and usages of this act by creating awareness with the help of campaigns, media and NGO's.

To make RTI act effective there is a requirement for more stricter sanctioning of this declaration as presently the RTI act is going through an unpleasant stage a lot more should be done to empower its advancement and extension.

References:
  1. https://docs.manupatra.in/newsline/articles/Upload/AC9CD2C7-B8AD-4C5A-B910- 3751BFE5CB28.pdf
  2. http://www.cuts-international.org/cart/pdf/Analysing_the_Right_to_ Information_Act_in_India.pdf
  3. 2 (1993) 4 SCC 441
  4. https://blog.ipleaders.in/approach-towards-good-governance/
  5. AIR 1973 SC 106
  6. AIR 1982 SC 149
  7. 6 2003(001)SCW 2353 SC

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