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HISTORY OF RTI

 HISTORY OF RTI :


WHAT IS RTI? 

India is the largest democracy in the world. Democracy is a system of government where the leaders are elected by the people and for the people. To help this cause and make the Indian system more transparent and corruption free, the Indian government has taken a step in this direction by introducing the RTI Act, 2005. This has made India more accountable and interactive. This act replaced Freedom of Information Act, 2002. The RTI Act enables the citizens of India to access information from any government organisation regarding how and why a certain decision has been taken or implemented. This act empowers the general public to scrutinise the actions of the government as well as increase the accountability and protect their fundamental rights. 

The act includes the right to : 

  • Inspect works, documents and records 

  • Take notes, extracts or certified copied of documents or records 

  • Take certified samples of materials 

  • Obtain information through various modes 


HISTORY:
Concept of Right to Information started taking shape in 1970ʼs by liberal interpretation by the judiciary in various Fundamental Rights specially the right to freedom of speech and expression. In the case of Bennete Coleman and co versus Union of India in 1973, the majority opinion of the Supreme Court then put it “Freedom of speech and expression includes within it compass the right of all citizens to read and be informed”. 


Other significant cases such as State of UP vs Raj Narain, 1975, Manubhai Shah vs LIC, 1981 etcetera strengthened the stance of the Indian judiciary towards their support of a participatory democracy. 


Before its implementation, going to court was not a very efficient option for the common citizen as the whole process involved a lot of time and money which was not a feasible course of action for everyone. The first movement that revolutionised this act was led by Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS) in Rajasthan. It started as a local movement by the peasants against the local administration of villages regarding the development works and it gradually gained momentum and the changed the whole system. After this, various groups and individuals campaigned in favour of this right to become a part of Indiaʼs legislation. The UPA government, which was in power at that time appointed a National Advisory Council to suggest measures to modify the already existing Freedom of Information Act, 2002 and incorporate the demands of the people. The RTI bill, 2004 when tabled in the parliament was only applicable to the central government but various social movements took place which led the government to amend its state governmentsʼ administration policies as the stateʼs information was considered to be more useful to the general public. 


Coming to more recent times, an NGO called Parivartan, which encompasses people from different sectors, has been fighting for the public distribution system to be more transparent and to make the government more liable for its actions.It is working against corruption and the lack of governance prevailing in the country. 


After a long and taxing struggle of various activists such as Anna Hazare, BB Sharan and social organisations such as Nyayabhoomi ; Right To Information Act, 2005 has become a basic right and is now considered under the ambit of Right to speech and expression. 


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