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Mains Answer Writing

9-March-2024

Q1) Balancing the depth and range of the RTI Act is crucial for ensuring transparency and accountability across a broader spectrum of functionaries and offices in the government machinery. Examine.

(150 Words/10 Marks)

ANSWER

Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005 is a legislation of the Parliament that gives citizens the right to information which is under the control of the public authorities.’

The depth of the RTI Act, 2005 in bringing the tenets of transparency and accountability in the system of governance as can be seen from:

  1. Enabling social auditing at the level of individuals.

E.g., citizens can question, examine, review, and assess government acts, policies, and decisions.

  1. Known as the sunshine legislation, RTI Act has had the effect of bringing irregularities in handling pubic money to the fore.

E.g., RTI unearthed 2G Scam, Commonwealth Games scam etc.

  1. It has a liberating impact of reinforcing the element of service in civil servants.

E.g., as per experts, access to information enables welfare objectives regarding women empowerment, entitlements for underprivileged etc.

  1. RTI Act has empowered citizens through information, giving them the agency to set narrative and influence government policies.

E.g., access to information regarding government expenditures can shape the narrative for fiscal prudence.

  1. The rule of law over law of man is realised in substantial manner with the exercise of RTI by the citizens.

E.g., Acts of misuse of public office for personal gains can be brought out in open by a single RTI application.

 

Though extensive in its depth, the RTI Act, 2005, as per critics, lacks in its range and reach, as can be seen from:

  1. The appointment process of important constitutional functionaries outside the range of the provisions of RTI Act, undermine the effectiveness of the legislation.

E.g., proceedings of collegium (judiciary) are outside the RTI Act, 2005.

  1. The exclusion of political parties from the disinfecting effect of RTI Act amounts to political establishments circumscribing the principles of transparency and accountability.

E.g., inclusion of political parties under the RTI Act will help in cleansing the electoral politics.

  1. The exemption given to investigative agencies from disclosures under the Right to Information Act, 2005, though is argued to be necessary for sanctity of investigations, it restricts the free and secure access to information.
  2. Critics argue that RTI (Amendment) Act, 2019, has diluted the extent and reach the legislation.

E.g., it is alleged that the removal of the provision for a fixed 5-year term for the election commissioners may make the body subservient to political interests.

  1. The poor whistleblower framework has severely restricted the ability of the legislation to serve its purpose of disseminating information towards the end of good governance.

RTI Act, 2005 has been a watershed in transforming the very paradigm of governance by empowering citizens. The need going forward is that to make the structure of information sharing more secure and responsive.

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