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Mains Answer Writing

17-october-2023

1.  Corruption corrodes the fabric of governance, eroding the public’s faith in democratic institutions.’ Examine the potential for harmonizing the Right to Information (RTI) Act, the Whistleblower Protection Act (WBPA), and the Lokpal & Lokayukta Act, 2013, to enhance the effectiveness of the anticorruption regime.

ANSWER

In order to promote transparency, accountability, and good governance, various laws have been implemented in the country but three laws, i.e., Right to Information, 2005, Whistleblower Protection Act, and Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013 have proved to be the most effective in addressing the challenge of corruption. In order to enhance the effectiveness of anti-corruption laws, there arises a need to harmonize these three laws.

  1. Common Agenda: RTI brings out the information to the public, Whistleblowers Protection Act, protects the identity of the whistleblowers, while the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act establishes an ombudsman to inquire into, investigate, and prosecute corrupt officials. Thus, these three Acts form a complementary chain of objectives to bring transparency, efficiency, and accountability to the system.
  2. Poor Protection to Whistleblowers: RTI Act does not protect the identity of whistleblowers who bring out irregularities and corruption. Harmonizing RTI with Whistleblowers Protection Act and Lokpal Act may integrate the protection of RTI and Lokpal Act and protect the whistleblowers from getting harmed. For e.g., almost 100 RTI activists have lost their lives since 2005.
  3. Efficiency: Harmonising the three Acts will improve coordination of working, provide cooperation in steps and allow a better and unhindered flow of crucial information required for proper investigation of allegations of corruption against officials.
  4. Public-Government Participation: RTI Act, 2005, and Whistleblower Protection Act, 2014 is based on the rights and participation of citizens while the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013 is based on providing safeguard to these rights by establishing an independent authority. Harmonizing all three Acts will increase public faith as they will feel protected under the authority of an independent authority.
  5. Timely Action: With RTI (Amendment) Act, 2019, the powers and independence of CIC have been reduced significantly, making enforcement of time limits under the RTI Act difficult. In this regard, harmonizing the provisions of Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 will improve the condition as Lokpal will act as an independent enforcement agency.
  6. Less Litigation and Legal Conformity: Harmonising the three Acts will remove legal gaps within the individual Acts, thus making them consistent legally and making the anti-corruption framework further robust.
  7. Comprehensiveness: The RTI Act is limited by several provisions and rules like the Official Secrets Act, of 1903. since Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 is applicable to all employees from Group A to D, harmonization of the Acts can improve the comprehensiveness of coverage. Whistleblowers Act, 2014 may further protect the information sharers from government wrath and excess of powers.
  8. Burden Sharing: Harmonising the three Acts will reduce the burden on individual implementation agencies and streamline implementation.

Despite a strong legal and institutional framework against corruption in place in the form of three Acts, the implementation remains broken, fragmented, and inefficient. Harmonizing these three Acts can enhance the efficiency of implementation and make the whole system robust and promote accountability and transparency.

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