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Misuse And Loopholes Of The RTI Act

People who live in modern democracies have a right to information about the activities of their government and the policies that impact their well-being. A healthy democracy is built on informed citizens who participate in their government. In a democratic government of the people, by the people, and for the people, informed citizens are the foundation of a healthy democracy.

Citizens who are well-educated and intelligent make substantial contributions to the preservation of a nation's democratic values. It is commonly recognized that everyone has the right to information in a democratic society, and it is a natural right that emerges from the fundamental principle of democracy. It is impossible to have a democratic government without the concept of accountability, and one of the most fundamental tenets of accountability is that the public should be informed about how their government operates.

Following the enactment of a law creating the right to information in India, its effectiveness can be expanded by good implementation, which would result in improved public administration for the benefit of the general public.

Every coin has two sides, one helpful and the other not so beneficial but widely misunderstood. The same goes for the Freedom of Information Act. It's tough to explain because the law doesn't ask why information is exchanged, how it's used, or what the aims are. These are basic questions that everyone asks, but no one knows the answer to. The goal of gathering information is not simply to spread information or enlighten the administrative machinery, but also to sabotage a department or a high-ranking official.

As shown above, the Right to Information Act of 2005 has been exploited. The State Information Commission was aware of the problem, but no plan exists to monitor it. According to Bhaskar Patil, the State Material Commissioner in Nagpur, the information gathered is sometimes misappropriated for suspected blackmail purposes. No provision for asking for a rationale or justification to be asked to RTI applicants means that information cannot be withheld.

Although many times the information sought violated an individual's privacy, he stated that several faults in the process remain that must be addressed to prevent entrenched interests from abusing the Act. The identical RTI information on a ration card retailer has been requested ten times in nine distinct situations. It's a clear sign that something is wrong. Even hotel owners' information was gathered. Third parties have a vested interest in such applications. Providing knowledge is vital because activists can transform it into a public cause. Hotel owners may say they want to check for any anomalies in the hotel permit process.

Positive Use Of RTI:

The vast majority of applicants who file RTI applications on a regular basis are referred to by public information officers as blackmailers, harassers, and persons who abuse the RTI process. Those that filed a large number of RTI applications would fall into one of the following categories, in my opinion:
  • Participants in RTI requests who hoped to expose corruption or arbitrariness in the government while also improving and correcting the system.
  • Those who filed RTI petitions on multiple occasions in order to seek redress for a perceived wrong that had been done to them. Their major purpose is to obtain restitution for their own wrongs.
  • Those who used the Right to Information Act to extract money from others. This category is largely concerned with illegal buildings, mining, and any other activity that is in violation of the law.
  • It is those who use this to harass a public figure in order to obtain an unfair advantage that should be condemned.

These categories together account for approximately Twenty percent of the total number of appeals and complaints received by the Commission. These are RTI users who have been using it for a lengthy period of time and who are generally well-versed in the appeals and processes process.

Nobody can deny that the first category deserves to be aided and assisted. Some members of the second group have been successful in obtaining corrective action, while others' grievances may still be unresolved. When faced with such applicants, public information officers (PIOs) should communicate with the competent authorities to see whether the situation can be resolved.

The third and fourth groups, which are those who are attempting to turn it into a money-making plan or who are putting undue pressure on others, are particularly despised by the majority of us. The last two categories are unlikely to account for more than ten percent of all appeals and complaints received by the government.

We should also notice that the vast majority of ordinary people who do not obtain information are completely unaware of the appeals process. More than 40% of persons who attempt to submit appeals with CIC are discouraged by arrogant returns, according to the organization. Therefore, it appears as though the third and fourth categories will receive significantly fewer RTI applications than the 10 percent threshold.

I believe that in the course of enforcing most laws, some individuals will take advantage of the provisions of those laws. The police frequently abuse their authority in order to break the law, and criminals take advantage of our court system in order to extend their cases. The misuse of any laws is mostly decided by the types of people who live in a community, as well as the ability of the legal system to punish those who break the law. Some people travel to places of worship only with the goal of committing theft or other crimes while they are there.

However, these are not considered to be the most important aspects of temples by the general public. There are several criminal behaviours that you can engage in in order to blackmail an officer or someone who has engaged in an illegal conduct. Different government officials are tasked with identifying and combating these problems, and the average citizen is actually serving as a watchdog.

Misuse Of RTI Act

"The Right to Information Act is a good law, but it is being abused"- S H Kapadia, Chief Justice of India (2010-2012)

It has been observed that many petitioners are abusing the Right to Information Act, owing to the non-applicability of the locus-standi rule in RTI proceedings and the lack of a requirement to demonstrate justification for obtaining information. This provides ample opportunity for non-serious information seekers to exploit the system for their own personal advantage rather than the benefit of the public.

Furthermore, this takes away time from public officials and has a negative influence on their ability to do their duties. According to the RTI Act's terms, as suggested by the Act's Statement of Objects and Reasons, the Act is intended to ensure access to information under the control of public authorities in order to promote transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority.

As a result, this Court believes that such a religious aim of the Act is being abused by the petitioner, and that there is no public interest in disclosure. Researchers have discovered that the Right to Information Act is being abused by both casual and frequent information seekers for two distinct reasons, which they have documented.

The State Information Commissionerate (SIC) has issued its 11th annual report, which draws attention to suspected "misuse" of the Right to Information Act by certain users. While the Public Information Officers (PIOs) and Appellate Authorities (AAs) have been discussing the issue, this may be the first annual report in which the Commissionerate admits to such a misuse. The various benches of the SIC have come across cases where a single individual has filed multiple appeals.

In a similar vein, there have been instances of applicants who fall below the poverty level abusing the financial flexibility provided to them. According to studies:
Misuse of the RTI Act has been detected in some situations, and it is the responsibility of social groups and activists to recognize this and develop measures to put a stop to it.

Loopholes:
The RTI Act makes the right to information a tool to control the abuse of administrative discretion, yet it has significant flaws that impair the right to information. The loopholes are:
  • Section 2(h) does not provide a thorough and exclusive definition of public authorities, which may cause uncertainty. Since some NGOs get funding directly or indirectly from the public, the question arises as to whether these NGOs are public authority. Although temples are sponsored by trusts, the Supreme Court has deemed them public authorities in numerous circumstances. The Act does not state whether temples are public authorities or not.
     
  • This Act also lacks contempt provisions, which means it cannot compel or compliant the people to follow the regulations. No 'contempt of court' makes non-compliance with the information commission order. This Act must have a clause.
     
  • According to Section 7(1) of the legislation, the applicant should get the information requested in the RTI application within 30 days of receiving it. If the time limit is exceeded or the work is not completed, then no proviso or notion is introduced. It is required because otherwise the process would be sluggish and wasteful.
     
  • It specifies that even if a serviceman is unaware of the Act, he or she may be assigned as a CPIO. However, the CPIO's qualifications are not disclosed and are not mentioned anywhere in the RTI submission. Also, new employees and appellate authorities should be trained and periodically reviewed on the amendment test.

Other flaws in the Right to Information Act 2005 impede improved administration and the achievement of the Act's goals. The RTI Act, 2005 mandates that information be provided to the public within 30 days after application, or face a fine. It is not feasible to collect all information accurately and timely for each application. Elections, holidays, emergencies, disaster management, and obsolete data from various branches can cause delays in information delivery.

The information provided to the applicant can be in soft or hard copy. It is also not required that all public information offices in mountainous, rural, and village areas have fax, phone, electricity, and internet access. Applicants may be delayed in receiving information due to inadequate infrastructure. People are now exploiting the data acquired by the Public Information Office. The main goal is to inform the people. However, in today's world, the act has lost its purpose and is used to harass and blackmail coworkers.

The RTI Act contains many sections that impose obligations, duties, responsibilities, and penalties on public officials, but none that recognize their efforts, which demotivates personnel. The Act also offers no protection to the whistleblower. Basically, whistleblowers obtain information from public information offices and report it to the Civil Vigilance Commission (CVC) concerning corruption, unlawful activities, and malpractices.

As of 2014, the government has established the Whistleblower Protection Act, which has several loopholes and does not provide adequate protection to those who speak out against injustice. Examples of whistleblower murder cases include Poipynhun Majaw (2018), Nanjibhai Sondarva (2018), Bhupendra Vira (2016), Nandi Singh (2012).

Conclusion:
A weapon in the hands of citizens of a country, the right to information allows them to learn about the functions performed by public authorities, the purpose of a public transaction that is said to be done in the name of a public act, and the source of funds that are used to carry out those functions.

The right to information existed prior to the implementation of the Right to Information Act, 2005 because it is deemed to be one of the fundamental rights covered by Article 19(1) of the United Nations Charter. This right encourages transparency and accountability in the performance of public functions by public authorities. Despite the fact that the right to information is regarded as a significant improvement in India, it has a number of shortcomings that must be added.

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