by Harsh Rai
Right to Information (RTI) is a formidable Right of a citizen to keep checks and Balances in public affairs. RTI was brought into the picture to create transparency among the public sector and the nation’s general population. As we all know, the actions performed by the government are funded by the people of the country, and still they were kept in the dark in regards to their usage. Before RTI Act, 2005 only member of the parliament had the right to ask the government for any actions they have performed, but post commencement of this act any person who resides in the country can ask for information regarding any act of the government. Corruption on the side was much easier back then as there were no checks and balances performed by authority for mismanagement actions. In this Article the Author has tried to explain possible grounds for reducing corruption that RTI Act was intended to offer.
Once Tarjana Susawat said that:
“Corruption is a weed, whose influence on crops is of an immeasurable; they spread everywhere.”
In recent decades a lot of laws and actions to combat the greatest illness in the administrative world have been established and made, and that is corruption. In order to eliminate corruption from the nation, the right to information is also implemented, so now let us concentrate, right to information works as a weapon against corruption? Citizens have a right to know what governments, international organisations and private companies do and how public resources are allocated. Corruption prospers in the shadows, and any action of bringing them into light will tarnish the whole hive. Right to Information does the same, it provides public scrutiny that advances anti-corruption. Corruption is the drawback that hampers transparency in the government system, like a single fish spoils the whole pond, but where there is problem there is solution as well in this scenario its RTI. Right to Information is celebrated in the whole world on 28th September as “Right to Know Day” this day recognized the value of public access to the information that were held by the government.
RTI is also known as the “Right to Information Act, 2005”[i]. The RTI Act, 2005, which came into force on 13 October 2005, was adopted by Parliament on 15 June 2005. In accordance with Article 19(a), the right to information is an essential right conferred by our Indian Constitution, and indirectly grants the right to know. The Right to Information Act, 2005 removes inadequacies of the “Freedom of Information Act, 2002”[ii] and improves the efficiency of the legislation by providing accessibility and affordability for all seekers of information who are Indians. It allows any public authority in India to obtain information. NRIs and foreigners do not have the privilege to access Right to Information Act, 2005. It seeks to promote transparency, accountability and active citizens’ engagement in democracy through the provision of information for researchers. It only gives publicly available information that is held or publicly accessible.
After the implementation of the RTI Legislation, in 2005 the act against corruption was effectively used by social activists, civil society organisations, and ordinary citizens to promote openness and transparency inside the government, in the public good. Responsibility for the efficient operation of the government is one of the fundamental aspects. The fundamental need for accountability is for citizens to be informed of how the government works. It can be feasible if people are fully aware of how the government functions to play its part in making democracy really effective and participatory democracy.
RTI is highly important in the eradication of corruption and maintaining transparency in the government mechanism. RTI is a joint effort of a variety of Non-profit groups, including PUCL, MKSS (Majdoor Kishan Shakti Sangthan), Aruna Roy, Mukesh Dubey, Venkatesh, Lalit Mehta, Satish Shetty etc. Various RTI operatives, including a police officer, have been harassed and killed to obtain information to promote openness and accountability in the functioning of all public authorities[iii].
GROUNDS OF IMPACT OVER CORRUPTION PROCESS
It is a treasured right to knowledge. Information and the right to information are designed to be strong instruments to combat corruption, transparency and accountability, in the hands of responsible individuals, as maintained by the Supreme Court[iv]. There are few grounds on which corruption can be reduced on a scale, such are discussed below:
Only parliamentarians have the right to request information from the government before RTI was enacted. It enabled ordinary people to seek government information. RTI has measures that make it easier for information seekers to obtain. No public authority may for any reason reject or question why information seeker seeks information under this act except for those banned pursuant to “Section 8”[v].Anyone who requests information under this Act may, either in the English or Hindi languages or in the official languages of a certain area, make his/her request in writing or by electronic means where it is requested by the applicant with the fee provided in the Act. If any requestor cannot make a request in writing or electronically because they are illiterate or physically disabled, the Public Information Officer will be obliged to help the requestor in oral transfers in writing. No public authority may request anything that is not necessary or forbidden by this Act or any legislation in effect for the moment when it is obtaining information.
Transparency implies disruption generated in government institutions that prevent public awareness that leads to corruption of the fundamental information about the public interest. Information about the budget, the regulations, the surveys, the different plans presented by the government. It should be publicly accessible. This Law also puts some reasonable constraints on people’s having to keep all records in a way that they can access them easily within a fair period of time by computerising them and making them available on the Internet. All relevant information relating to and concerning the public authority shall be published within 120 days following the act. In order to become accessible, the information needs to be disseminated to the public.
Every person of India, whether affluent or poor, Information has been made affordable through RTI. No public authority may charge each application more than Rs.50/-. In that instance, “Common Cause v. Allahabad High Court &ors.”[vi]the petitioner challenged Allahabad High Court’s RTI Rules of Instance in 2006 on the premise that the same was in violation of many RTI Act requirements as Article 4 of the Rules of Indicate a fee of Rs. 500/- per application was not in line with the RTI Act provisions. The Supreme Court decided that Rs.50/- and Rs.5 for the photocopying of all government authorities shall not be greater than those applicable to the filing of the RTI Application[vii].
Minimal Time Consuming:
Public officials are obliged to give information to all requesters of information. No general people can search for and receive, and information is provided to them. After this legislation, the information shall nonetheless be supplied within thirty days. Nobody can refuse to disclose information to the seekers as they are bound by law.
The eradication of corruption is particularly essential for RTI and transparency in government systems. Information rights are a joint effort on the part of many NGOs and activists.
After this legislation was enacted, it became simple for the Social Activists and the organisation of civil society to remove corruption in the public interest in promoting government openness and accountability. By informing informers, RTI fosters the active involvement of citizens in a democracy. Indeed, the right to information was a useful instrument for creating transparency and reducing uncontrolled corruption in the functioning of different public agencies. Because of this gesture, civilization has grown.
The RTI Act supports awareness, which promotes government accountability. It is a tool to address the problems of people, society and the community. Personal issues like the Pending Revenue Tax, Delayed Passport, property Documents such the Occupancy Certificate, Delayed Aadhar Card, FIR Status, Background Delay, Copies of response pages, etc.Social issues including poor road conditions conduct the social audit of government initiatives, knowhow of the funds assigned by your MP/MLA, implementing the government programmes and schemes, regulations and budget allocations, etc. If the people know their position and their value in the democratic system and are interested in knowing how and how government works.
SOME INSTANCES OF SUCCESSFUL IMPLEMENTATION OF RTI ACT, 2005:
Adarsh Society Scam: In this matter, a six-story structure which was supposed to be a priesthood of Kargil heroes widows ended up being a Thirty story lavish structure for Politicians, Bureaucrats, and High ranking Military officials. Simpreet Singh and Yoga Anandji, RTI campaigners, discovered the link. The parcel of land was said to belong not to the State of Government but the Defense Ministry.
Commonwealth Scam: RTI was submitted by a non-profit organisation and the Delhi Government has disclosed that 744 crores have been diverted from the Dalit Community’s welfare money to the Commonwealth Games. A non-profit organisation, the Housing and Land Rights Network, has also concluded that the majority of the funds spent on services are merely on paper, implying additional corruption and money laundering.
CONCLUSION & SUGGESTIONS:
The RTI Act certainly is a historic milestone and has energetically energised portions of our community. Yet it is a very hard job to find these pieces of information, despite its exquisite craftsmanship and well-established equipment to support it. Therefore, it was not shocking when an RTI was stonewalled by each ministry or agency for information about how many overseas travels Rahul Gandhi has undertaken since he was appointed General Secretary of the AICC[viii].
Numerous RTI activist assaults and killings prove that it is an insufficient tool to fight corruption. Since the RTI Bill was in its development stages, I consistently urged for the law to be referred to as ‘the duty to provide accurate information legislation’ to key advocates. Unfortunately, the concept that the government ‘obligation’ to give honest information to citizens is not yet in the process of being unheeded is probably because, while the Right to Information Act has acceptable predecessors in Western democracies.
The RTI is an important and valued right that enables people to combat bribery. It is a matter of awareness that they should properly use this privilege to ensure that India free of corruption does not hamper domestic growth and integration or destroy peace and consistency among its inhabitants. In a democracy, the major part is played by people in that country who should have the city responsible for their governments. It would happen when everybody interrogates their government by submitting RTI applications instead of wondering why they respond because they have the right to inquire.
‘If everyone is aware, then no corruption is there.’[ix]
[i]The Right to Information Act, 2005, No. 22, Acts of Parliament, 2005 (India).
[ii] The Freedom Of Information Act, 2002, No. 05, Acts of Parliament, 2003 (India).
[iii]GazalaParveen, Can RTI eradicate Corruption?,IPLEADERS (Oct. 22, 2019), https://blog.ipleaders.in/rti-corruption/.
[iv]TRANSPARENCY INTERNATIONAL, https://www.transparency.org/en/news/right-to-information-knowledge-is-power (last visited July 16, 2021).
[v]RTI, supra note 1, at s.8.
[vi] Common Cause v. High Court of Allahabad and Ors, (2018) 14 SCC 39.
[viii] ET Bureau, RTI by itself cannot combat corruption, reforms needed, THE ECONOMIC TIMES (Oct. 15, 2012, 08:08 AM IST), https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/rti-by-itself-cannot-combat-corruption-reforms-needed/articleshow/16815476.cms.
[ix] GAZALA, supra note 3.
[x] Picture: rtionline.gov.in