Information Is Power :A Write up On Right To Information Act, 2005 :: By: S.C.Saha
 

Information Is Power:A Writeup On Right To Information Act,2005

By:S.C.Saha

Implementation of the Right to Information Act, 2005 in Tripura has advanced in 4th year. The state has now had the experience of using it for almost four years. The experience, as can be expected is mixed. The introduction of this Act has replaced the concept of secrecy in Government functioning by openness. The Right to Information Act, in contrast to the official secret Act, 1923 alleviates the citizens to the status of an information partner in the matter of good governess. It gives a right to citizens to know how their hard earned money is spent and how spending becomes useful to them. The basic objects of the legislature, Right to Information Act are: (1) Citizen Access to Information, (2) Transparency in Government Functioning, (3) Corruption Free Organization, (4) Participatory Governance, (5) Accountability of the Public Authorities, (6) Replacement of the Concept of Secrecy by Openness. The Right to Information Act is a landmark statute for protection of right of the Indian citizens. Public Authorities are no longer in a position to continue their work without being transparent and accountable to the citizen. To move forward, the RTI Act must be implemented cautiously, imaginatively and with due sincerity.

2. The adage ‘information is power’ has been proved in several cases where a citizen who is gripped of agony and annoyance has been able to get the authority to do the task and get relief from agony and frustration. Even though, it might not be wise to claim that the Right to Information Act has been instrumental in all cases to restore right of the citizens. The benefit of the act has been limited to only a few citizens and on a few occasions and it signifies that a lot of citizens have not been able to derive similar benefits from this legislation. It is time to examine this imbalance in securing similar benefits .There are obvious many reasons for not having the benefits are wide spread. The implementation of the Act mostly depends on the officers as much as it does on the gathered having served in the Tripura Information Commission, many of the stake holders are found either ignorant about the Right to Information Act or do not consider the act so much important. This situation has been arisen because of the fact that many of us exhibit indifferent attitude and ignorance of the instructions from the superior authorities.

3. The Act mandates dissemination of information held by and under the control of the Public Authorities. The authorities are under obligation to provide various details on the nature, management and their functioning. It is compulsory for the Public Authorities to do so, though beginning has been made to comply with the provisions of the Act, but successful implementation of the provisions of the Act mostly depend on the public authorities of their interest and sincere attitude in the implementation of the Act.

4. Public awareness about their right to access information held by the public authority in accordance with the provisions of the act depends mostly on how extent they have been educated in RTI. The sincere and citizen friendly attitude of the information providers under the public authorities are the primary requirement of the meaningful democracy with good governance. The appropriate government and the public authorities are mainly vested with responsibility of building capacity through education and training of the stake holders under the public authorities and development of awareness amongst the public at large as laid down in section 26 of the RTI Act, 2005. The Government of Tripura, in this direction has taken necessary steps and the State Institute of Public Administration and Rural Development (SIPARD) has been declared as nodal agency to impart training to the stakeholders. The SIPARD is organizing workshops/training programmes on RTI regularly and Tripura Information Commission is extending all sorts of support to the SIPARD and the SIPARD by this time has organized many workshops and training programmes. Both the State Chief Information Commissioner and the State Information Commissioner participated and made presentation on the RTI for better understanding of the provisions of the Act. This apart, the Govt. of Tripura has issued many functional directives to the Public Authorities for proper implementation of the Act. The State Government, in exercise of power conferred on it by section 27 of the act has framed the Tripura Right to Information Rules, 2008 for proper implementation of the Act. Tripura Information Commission is utmost emphasizing on general awareness and concentrating on awareness amongst the people and stake holders as well for proper understanding of the provisions of the act. With the active support of the state government the District Administration in particular, the Commission could have organized district and sub-division level programmes to advance understanding about the Right to Information Act amongst the stake holders to further as to how to exercise the provisions of the RTI Act, 2005. This apart, several programmes were also organized in the state capital as well as in the District Head-quarters to develop resource persons and also to train the officials.

5. The overall citizen’s response to use to the Right to Information Act in the State is most encouraging. There sufficient rise in the number of information seekers is noticed in the year ended on 31st March, 2009 compared to the previous years. The response of the stake holders is also positive. Therefore, the information seekers need not to lodge appeal or complaint as many. But the maximum use of the RTI Act so far made by the people, they are mostly by the urban people and the government servants. So, propagation of the RTI in rural people is utmost necessary and this can only be fructify by involving the grass root level elected body. The Panchayat Department has arranged for training of the Panchayat Pradhans/Members and Panchayat Secretaries on RTI Act in Panchayat Raj Training Institute, A.D.Nagar, Agartala and it is hoped that the rural people will also come forward to use the RTI Act as much as the urban people use.

 

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