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Path to Information - RTI Act


With the celebrating reverberations of the 4th anniversary of the Right to Information Act being heard across the country there’s much more to hype on. The RTI Act which came into effect on 12th October, 2005 allowing every citizen to question the government, politicians and government officials was deemed to be one of the most effective instruments in our democracy. For setting out the practical regime of right to information for citizens so as to secure access to information under the control of public authorities and also in order to promote transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority the Central and State Information Commissions were constituted.
Under the RTI Act the responsibility of a public authority and its public information officers (PlO) is not confined to furnish the information asked for; but they also have to provide necessary help to the information seeker wherever necessary. While providing information or rendering help to a person, it is important to be courteous to the information seeker and to respect his dignity. This way RTI was meant to sweep the cobwebs of corruption away from India’s opaque governance bringing transparency and accountability.
But under the so called pompous Indian officialdom’s ability to camouflage things within itself it would not be a news of great surprise that as per a study of National Right to Information Awards Secretariat a person has only a 39 percent chance of getting information sought under the highly glorified Right to Information Act (RTI). Various reasons tantamount to fabrication are often cited for not revealing the information by those who feel that their reputation could be sullied by the RTI Act.
As the Public Information Officer (PIO) and the First Appellate Authority are from the same public authority and there isn’t much difference in the echelon of the designations therefore the chances of getting the information in a prevaricated manner can’t be ruled out.
The much hyped RTI Act has no doubt some flaws within. The maximum time limit of 30 days each given to the Public Information Officer (PIO) and the First Appellate Authority leaves the information seeker with Hobson’s choice of waiting for the reply till the stipulated period expires. The concerned officers who are bound to provide the information under the RTI Act but do not do same or who reply in a prevaricated manner are rarely penalised as per the Act.
Another reason which hampers the RTI Act to unleash its effect is that around 60% of the Public Information Officers have had no training in RTI and also there is lack of awareness of RTI Act among the public.
The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, Government of India (GoI) has launched an 'Online Certificate Course on RTI' for various stakeholders on, both, the demand and supply sides of the RTI implementation regime. This Online Certificate Course on RTI is launched in association with the Centre for Good Governance, Hyderabad. This Online Certificate Course is aimed at Public Information Officers (PIOs), Assistant Public Information Officers (APIOs), Appellate Authorities, Officials assisting the above designated officers or other public officials, Citizens, Representative of Civil Society Organisations (including Media Organisations), any other person(s) who could be a direct / indirect stakeholder. The objectives of this course are to reach out to those who have not had an opportunity to participate in any training / sensitisation initiatives on RTI Act 2005, bringing greater clarity on RTI among designated implementing officials (i.e. APIOs / PIOs / FAOs), ensuring appreciation for RTI Act 2005 and its mandate among the officials designated under it and also among the citizens, facilitating timely delivery of information by PIO and having better informed citizens, civil society and other stakeholders.
The proposed outcome of this course are a sound knowledge of the provisions of the RTI Act 2005 among the people taking this course, good understanding of the roles and responsibilities of organisations / persons concerned with implementing the law and with enforcing the rights under this law, proper appreciation of rights / obligations – as applicable – for effective use of this right, reliable guidance on following the right process / procedure to implement the provisions of this Act and to benefit from this Act, good understanding of remedies available when an implementing organisation fails to comply with this Act, testing the understanding of 'Information Providers' and 'Information Seekers' using this tool for implementing this Act or exercising their right under it. A certificate for learners of this course on its successful completion is also awarded as an incentive.
The initiative taken by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, Government of India (GoI) to create awareness of RTI Act among the nationals of India is being seen as a step of mutation to immaculate corruption.
The government must realise that eventually it will have no other option than to bring transparency in its system.

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Devendra Lingwal

Devendra Lingwal
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A result oriented writer with a flair to write for books, magazines, newspapers, newsletters, and web publications for technical, business, and general audiences. Able to conceive, design, plan, and manage all phases of editorial projects; not afraid to dig in and create any single editorial element or group of elements. That's me:

As a Citizen Journalist have won awards for 4 of my articles, ‘Time to have a re-look at blacklisted sikhs’, ‘Killing for honour kills human honour’, ‘Gandhi, youth and globalisation’ and ‘Growing pains of the youth’ as the 'best articles'.

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