An open government is guided by the principal of transparency, accountability,
participation and collaboration. open government is a topic of growing
importance in administrative law. The modern trend is towards more open
government. Openness in government is bound to act as a powerful check on the
abuse or misuse of power by the government.
Evolution of Right To Information (International)
Article 19 of universal declaration of Human Rights,1948 recognizes the Right
Sweden (1766) : First country to guarantee RTI to its citizens. Constitution
declares that citizens shall have free access to information subject to only
Finland(1951): Law on the right to information on publicity of document.
France(1978): Commission on access to administrative documents.
United States: Foundation of openness and RTI lay in Constitutional fundamental
right of free speech.
Canada: Freedom of information Act ,1986 .
Australia, New Zealand: Freedom of Information Act ,1982.
South Africa(1996): Constitution provides RTI as a fundamental right.
Great Britain: Freedom of Information Act ,2002 provides general right of public
access to all types of recorded information by public authority with some
Evolution of Right To Information In India
In Rajasthan the Right to Information movement
was initiated by Aruna Roy in the early 1990’s. The Mazdoor Kisan Shakthi
Sangathan (MKSS) succeeded Through Struggle and agitation, in accessing and
using information to put an end to local corruption and exploitation. In 2005
the Parliament has enacted a new legislation – Right To Information Act 2005.
This new Act replace the old Freedom of Information act, 2002, which was un
notified and hence, not operational. It aims at promoting Transparency and
accountability in the working of every public authority. It has the widest
possible reach covering central government, state governments panchayat raj
Institution, Local Bodies and recipients of government grants.
This right to information act is applicable to
all the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Which has its own Right to Information Act
2009 Every citizen of India has the Right to seek information through this act.
only an Individual can use this RTI facility. A group or company cannot request
for any Information.
The Act provides for establishment of Central Information Commission and
State Information Commission.The Information Commission acts as a redressal
valve in ensuring that the authorities under the act carry out their duties and
functions properly and the citizens right to information is safeguarded.
Every government office will have its own PIO (Public information officer) who is responsible to accept the request from the Public and provide
the Information Within 30 days of their request A minimum fee is charged form
The public people from BPL (Below Poverty Line) are exempted from paying any fee
to seek any information . Also there are APIOS (Assistant Public Information officers) available in the post
offices located in main cities and towns.
The officer is charged Rs.250 per day as penalty for the delay. He is
likely to be charged Rs2500 for providing wrong Information for denial of
Information and disciplinary action will be initiated against the officer who
fails to provide Information and it his explanation is not duly justified.
Reasons For The Need For The Right To Information
Right to information is necessary due to the accountable to people.
It reduces the gap between administration and people.
Increases people participation in administration.
Makes people aware of administrative decision making.
Reduces the chance of abuse of authority by the public servants.
Right To Information As A Fundamental Right
Right to information has enacted from the freedom of speech and expression
enshrined in article 19(1) (a) and right to life and personal liberty contained
in article 21 of the constitution. The judiciary treats it as a part of the
freedom of speech and expression guaranteed by article 19(1) (a). It is also of
equally paramount consideration that justice should not only be done but also be
publicly recognized as having been done.
In bennet coleman v. union of India, the court held that the democracy
means a government of the people, it is obvious that every citizen must be
entitled to participate in the democratic persons. Their effective participation
can be ensured only if they have sufficient information with them.
There are several aspects of open government
1.Presentation of documents by the government in the court in the course of
3.Access to information.
People’s right to know has two aspects:
1. How far government should use criminal sanction to deter free flow of
2. How far government is under a positive obligation to make available, on
demand, information to the people not in the prohibited category?
In S.P.Gupta v. Union of India, bhagawathi.J., has observed that the open
government is the new democratic culture of an open society towards which every
libral democracy is moving and our country should be no exception.
Citizens ought to know what their government is doing. No democratic government
can survive without accountability which implies that people should have
information about the functioning of the government. Secrecy in functioning of
the government promote operation, corruption, misuse and abuse of authority.
Open government is a clean government.
In secretary of ministry of information and broadcasting, government of India
v. Cricket association of west Bengal, the supreme court held that the
freedom of speech and expression includes rights to acquire information and to
In Tata Press Ltd v. Mahanagar telephone Nigam Ltd., the court held that
commercial speech is a part of freedom of speech and expression. So far as the
economic needs of a citizen are concerned, their fulfilment has to be guided by
the information disseminated through the advertisements.
In Dinesh trivedi v. Union of India, Supreme Court emphasized that right to
know is axiomatic in modern constitutional democracies. Art 21 is meaningless
without the right to information.
In Attorney General v. Time News Papers Ltd, it was held that the
fundamental rights involved are the people’s right to know .Freedom of speech an
expression should ,therefore, receive a generous support from all those who
believe in the participation of people in the administration.
Indians file nearly 60 lakh RTIs every year, the highest number of such
information requests in the world . A total number of 2,74,737 RTI
applications were filed under standalone in different departments and agencies
Simpreet Singh RTI activist said , “It just takes 10 Rs to right a wrong the
biggest achievement of RTI is that it tells the most powerful people that they
are not beyond the reach of a common man”
Through an RTI starting from the electricity bill of your local commissioner
to the amount spent by the government in training of an athlete. A young girl in
her RTI asked who has gave the order for printing Mahatma Gandhi’s image on
In another interesting RTI, a political activist in 2004 asked the election
commission of india why election symbols used in electronic voting machines are
black and white and not colourful.
State Level Laws
The RTI laws were first successfully enacted by the state governments –
Tamilnadu(1997), Goa(1997), Rajasthan(2000), Karnataka(2000) , Delhi(2001),
Maharastra(2002), Madhya Pradesh(2003), Assam(2002).
There is a restriction in seeking information according to the official Secret
Act 1923 and such information will not be revealed or provided to the citizen of
India in the interest of the country’s security. No information pertaining to offices and section dealing with security
of the nation which will endanger the
national security,security to the personnel,like the defence,CB,CID,BSI,Police
etc,However any issues relating to malfunction or corruption in the department
are excluded and can be sought through this RTI Act.
RTI And Administrative Reforms
RTI and Administrative Reforms have a mutually reinforcing symbiotic
RTI ensures transparency,accountability and efficiency which are themselves
goals of Administrative Reforms .
RTI helps in exposing the shortcomings of the system which leads to further
RTI cannot succeed in its implementation until and unless supported by
structural and procedural reforms. Thus Administrative Reforms are a necessity
for RTI success.
Request of information under RTI can help make the civil servants aware of the
problems and thus leads to corrective action.
The officer who is the head of all the information act is the Chief
Information Commissioner (CIC). At the end of the year CIC is required to submit
the reports which contains the number of requests, amount of charges collected
by each public authority under the act etc, Bhopal Gas Tragedy could have been
avoided if people had been provided complete information about the hazards of
the plants and the protective measures.