Topic: Information sharing and transparency in government, Right to Information.
1. The Right to Information Act’s role in fostering a more informed citizenry and an accountable government has never been in doubt ever since its implementation in 2005. Critically discuss. (250 words)
Why this question:
RTI has been a revolutionary legislation and has significantly increased the transparency and accountability in government functioning. There have been persistent and growing misgivings of the RTI Act. A change in the Act that seeks locus standi as a criterion could dramatically increase the rejection rate of RTI which is around 4.7% now. Limiting RTI responses based on locus standi of the applicants could create a chilling effect.
Key demand of the question:
The question wants us to express our knowledge and understanding about the RTI act. The recent proposed changes in the RTI act and how it could lead to subversion of the objectives of right to information.
Critically discuss – This is an all-encompassing directive – you have to debate on paper by going through the details of the issues concerned by examining each one of them. You have to give reasons for both for and against arguments. When ‘critically’ is suffixed or prefixed to a directive, all you need to do is look at the good and bad of something and give a fair judgement.
Structure of the answer:
Write a few introductory lines about the RTI act- its aims and significance.
Discuss the present problems with the act and the need to rectify the same
- seeking locus standi in order to respond to public requests could result in a chilling effect as public authorities (PAs) could choose to deny information to general citizens on subjective grounds.
- Besides, information commissioners and public officials have the authority to reject requests based on criteria that enable exemption from information disclosure
- the persisting problem of vacancies in the CIC and State commissions — the CIC has four vacancies and 33,000 pending cases.
Provide the various measures needed to strengthen the “Master key to Good Governance”.
Based on your discussion, form a fair and a balanced conclusion on the given issue.