“The Right to Information Act (RTI Act) was aimed at being a powerful beacon which illuminates the unlit corridors of the system”. With regard to the statement, analyze the changes brought through the recent amendments to the RTI Act. (250 Words)
RTI Act was introduced in 2005 under Article 19 & 21 of Indian constitution, as an instrument to strengthen participatory democracy and usher in people centric governance.
It has helped to –
- Reduce chances of abuse of power – kept those in power accountable.
- Kept corruption in check – uncovered scams such as 2G Spectrum.
- Strengthen participatory democracy – facilitated Intelligent and informed criticism of the government.
- Expose human right violations. Debunk fake news.
Thereby has in establishing a ‘Glass state’, where transparency is the norm and secrecy an exception. However, recently Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2019 has been introduced that aims-
- To do away with equivalence of CIC with that of Election commissioner (Sec13 (5) of RTI Act)
- Empower union government to provide for tenure, salaries, allowances and other terms of service for centre and state information commissioners.
These amendments have been introduced with the purpose of –
- Institutionalizing and streamlining RTI Act.
- Facilitate bold decision by officials who were seen to be reeling under overdose of democracy.
- Removing false equivalence between Constitutional body (EC) and statutory body (CIC).
However, the bill has been bitterly criticized by civil society as it could–
- Undermine institutional autonomy and make it subservient.
- Weaken Federalism – as union gets control over state level appointments.
- Weaken government accountability mechanism.
Hence, need of the hour is to build consensus over the amendments, by incorporating views of the civil society.
Further, there is a need bring in clauses to overcome other flaws such as poor implementation of penalties, high rejection rate of applications, large no of vacancies etc. to ensure larger mandate of the act is fulfilled and Indian democratic credentials are strengthened.