In a democratic country, citizens have the freedom to express their views and they have the right to get information related to the functioning of the government and other administrative authorities. It promotes check and balance and enhances transparency in policymaking and for a good democratic government, information must be accessible to the general people. In Indian Constitution, we have the freedom of speech and expression which is mentioned in Article 19(1)(a) means that we can express our views freely. So, for this, we need the necessary information from the public authorities to scrutinize any policy or welfare scheme or functioning of government and public authorities. Right to Information empowers and increases the role of citizens in governance. In 2005 Parliament enacted the Right to Information Act and after this Right to Information becomes a statutory right and the judiciary interpreted in many cases that it is a part of Article 19(1)(a) so it is a fundamental right as well and this act is very beneficial for promoting good governance.
RIGHT TO INFORMATION ACT, 2005 AND ITS OBJECTIVE
Valid and reliable information is a key element to check the administrative functions of government and its authorities and providing information to the general public promotes the transparency and accountability of public authorities. Right to Information is one of the essential human rights and it is a part of Article19(1)(a) of the Indian Constitution for living a dignified life citizens must have relevant information so they are well informed about the policies and working of government and administrative authorities. “Right to Information Act, 2005” come into force on 12th October 2005 and it replace the “Freedom of Information Act, 2002”. This act is one of the revolutionary acts to check the actions and functions of public authorities and this act empowers the citizen to get any information from public authorities. Right to Information defines in Section2(j) of the RTI Act, 2005 as “means the right to information accessible under this Act which is held by or under the control of any public authority”.
The main objective of the RTI Act is to ensure that there will be more transparency and accountability in the working of public authorities and it legally bounds the administrative authorities to maintain the free flow of information to the citizens. It promotes the concept of democratic governance because through this act citizens can check the functioning of the government and its authorities and it strengthens the role of citizens in policymaking. It also restrains the corruption and it ensured that citizens will be well-informed about the working of government and its authorities.
ROLE OF RTI ACT IN DEMOCRATIC GOVERNANCE AND ITS FEATURES
Democratic governance means the equal participation of citizens in the functioning of government and authorities. Also, Democracy empowers citizens to look over the schemes or programs initiated by the government for the welfare of the citizens and it gives the right to the citizens to freely criticize the government and administrative authorities for their arbitrary actions or for not functioning properly. In democratic governance, the free flow of information from public authorities to citizens is much needed so that’s why the Right to Information is enumerated as a fundamental right in the Indian Constitution and after the enactment of the Right to Information Act, 2005 it gives the full-fledge power to the citizen to get information related to working of the government and its authorities and it promotes a transparent system. For democratic governance, there should be responsiveness, accountability, and transparency. In elections, if citizens have relevant information about the working of representatives, they can choose their representatives wisely based on whether they have worked for the welfare of citizens or not in their previous tenure.
Some of the features of the right to information act, of 2005 are as follows:
- “Information” defines in Section2(f) of RTI Act, 2005 as any material in any form, including records, documents, memos, e-mails, opinions, advice, press releases, circulars, orders, and logbooks. contracts, reports, papers, samples, models, data material held in any electronic form, and information relating to any private body which can be accessed by a public authority under any other law for the time being in force.
- According to Section 4 of the RTI act, 2005, public authorities should maintain the records in a prescribed manner and the records should be computerized within a reasonable time.
- Designation of Public Information Officer is mentioned in Section 5 of the RTI Act, 2005 which states that there shall be “central public information officers” or “state public officers” as the case may be, in all administrative units or offices under it as may be necessary to provide information to persons requesting for the information under this Act.
- Section 7 of the RTI Act, 2005 states that the request should be disposed of within thirty days and in the case where the information sought concerns the life or liberty of a person, it should be disposed of within 48 hours.
- Section 12 and Section 15 of the RTI Act, 2005 mention the formation of a “central information commission” and “state information commission” respectively.
The Right to Information Act, of 2005 is a significant act to enhance the responsiveness and accountability of the functioning of government and public authorities, and this act is crucial for promoting democratic governance. It gives immense power to citizens to get information about the workings of administrative authorities and it prevents the arbitrary actions of the government and its authorities against the welfare of the citizens. However, there are some restrictions in the act which are necessary to maintain secrecy.
Author’s Name: Yash Bethal (NRI Vidyadayini Institute of Science, Management and Technology, Bhopal)