RTI Act not perfect: Expert
Chandigarh, May 17
Urging people to look at the Right to Information (RTI) Act in the context of the past 60 years, Shekhar Singh, founder member, National Campaign for People’s Right to Information, said while the Act was not perfect it would improve with the participation of the government and people. “Systems do not work well in this country and there are no expectations from the government so there is a need for the Act,” he said.
Giving a presentation on the fine print of the Act as well as the problems being faced by the government, people and the information commissioners, at a seminar conducted by the Asian education Society at the UT guest house, he drove home the point that the Act needed to be looked at in a holistic manner. “You have a dual responsibility, you are custodians and citizens,” he averred, maintaining that the civil servants were the single largest group using the Act.
However, he was clear that an early amendment to the Act was not something he wanted, adding it would take sometime for the Act to be clearly understood.
Stating that there were a few issues that needed to be looked into, he specified, “Prescribing a time limit for appeals, a unified fee and rule structure, some sections of the law to be covered under penalties, a contempt provision for the non-compliance of orders given by information commissioners among others need to be addressed.”
Citing the Supreme Court observation that Right to Information was the fundamental right and no reasons were required to access information, he said every citizen of the country was a stakeholder. “There are no ‘holy cow exemptions’ unless there is a valid reason for refusal. Secrecy has nothing to do with the RTI Act. What can be accessed by the government can be accessed by its people,” he elaborated.
He said systems could be made to work more efficiently by analysing the queries coming in and putting information out automatically.
With the Act fast gaining a reputation as the ‘magic of 30 days’ within which any information was to be given, he said it was more to do with solving than just giving information. “The Act will not be successful unless it is a deterrent, unless there are systemic changes.
It does not pit civil servants against people. It binds them in the sense that it helps good officials to join hands with people and solve issues.”
Earlier, Dr Talwar, director, PGI, who inugurated he seminar, spoke of the Act being an “important instrument” in bringing justice to the common man’s life. However, he did stress that information must be used correctly to facilitate better governance and not as an exploitative tool.
The seminar also included a presentation by Pitney Bowes representatives about software developed by them in compliance with the requirements of the RTI Act which would service the needs and requirements of the seekers and providers.
The Tribune, Chandigarh, India - Chandigarh Stories
Re: RTI Act not perfect: Expert
Nothing is ever perfect as one has to keep striving for further improvement!Time will take care of things with sincere efforts of people who are already finding Act even with its imperfections leading to improvements in only a Year which is a very short span of time in a country where archaic laws over a Century Old imposed by foreigners who do not have these even in their own country, still exist!
What is needed is to consolidate and reduce the number of laws on Statute Books as system has become too complex!