The RTI Act has done much for the achievement of a transparent
form of governance and we need to remove every impediment in its functioning
The Preamble of the Right to Information Act 2005 was absolutely correct when it said that democracy requires an informed citizenry and transparency of information which are vital to its functioning. This is also necessary to contain corruption and to hold the Governments and their instrumentalities accountable to the governed. But at the same time, revelation of information in actual practice is likely to conflict with other public interests, including efficient operations of the Government, optimum use of limited fiscal resources and the preservation of confidentiality of sensitive information. Hence, there is an immediate need to harmonise these conflicting interests while preserving the paramountcy of the democratic ideal. This Act was passed with the assumed purpose of harmonising these two conflicting purposes.
Now, seven years later, the RTI Act has been able to bring a sort of revolution, having transformed the public mind and public spirit. It has brought many activists and public-spirited persons to the fore. It has percolated right down to the village level. But, on the other side of the fence, not everyone seems to be equally happy with the RTI Act. It is not that each Government servant has taken the RTI Act in the same spirit. While there are few Government servants who really enjoy working as a public information officer under this Act and providing information as per its letter and spirit, from my personal experience of being an RTI activist as well as a Government servant, I feel that there are still a sufficiently large number of Government servants who do not relish the passage of this Act. They feel that this has only caused some trouble to them. They are also heard saying that they were much better off without this Act. So much so that in at least two instances, where I sought certain information from a Government department, the PIO tried to shoot me back by saying that I was trying to elicit information to generate undue pressure on the concerned officers. This is interesting because while the Act was promulgated with the purpose of bringing transparency in governance, there are still public servants who try to dampen the spirit of information-seekers….READMORE