The President had given his assent to the Right to Information Act on June 5, 2005, and this law came into force in the entire country on October 12, 2005. The biggest feature of the Act is that every citizen has been given the right to get information.
What is the Right to Information Act?
If an officer refuses to give information, he will be fined Rs 25,000 and an adverse remark can be registered in his character roll. Under this, the Center will have to set up a Central Information Commission. There will be a Chief Information Commissioner of this Commission.
The Chief Information Commission will have the powers to oversee, guide and manage the work of this Commission, with other Information Commissions, assisted by other Information Commissioners. Similarly, State Governments will also appoint State Information Officers, who will be answerable to the Chief Information Commissioner.
In addition to the administration of the Center and the States, Panchayats, local bodies, and non-governmental organizations receiving funds from the government also come under this Act.
Apart from this, the authorities will have to respond within 48 hours to requests for information on matters related to life and liberty under this law. This law has been implemented in the whole country except Jammu and Kashmir. Security and intelligence organizations have been kept away from the purview of this Act.
Advantages and disadvantages of the Right to Information in society.
As far as the far-reaching effects of the extension of the right to information are concerned, then wherever a person knows the possibility of disturbances in development works or public works, he will be entitled to get information about it from the responsible officer or employee.
If the villagers have the slightest doubt that the development work has not been done properly or that the number of people who should have been given employment at fair legal wages, then they can directly demand the inspection of related documents, bills, vouchers, muster rolls, etc.
Papers can be seen in the records of Panchayat or Block that when the work of construction of a canal, road, or school building was done, how much work was done in it, how much cement brick was installed, and the total expenditure including wages.
Then by checking on the spot the construction sites of roads, canals or schools, etc. in the village, and talking to the people around it, it can be clearly ascertained whether what is shown in the government records is fake or true.
In this way, authentic control can be imposed on corruption. Villagers If necessary, all the people of the village will be called to a public hearing on this subject, and the information related to the development works, obtained through the use of the Right to Information and the villagers’ own investigation, will be kept in front of everyone and in the public hearing they will have their own opinion. The parties may be called to appear.
No wonder that even after ten years of enactment of the RTI Act, its concept is still in its nascent stage. The situation is worse in the States. There, government employees do not consider it their job to provide information. Common applicants seeking information under the Right to Information Act are harassed in the state. Often the guilty officers are not punished.
The financial penalty is imposed, but its compliance is also less. Not only this, the appointment of information commissioners in the states is completely political, in such a situation, most of the information commissioners are considered only as a source of income and are engaged in fulfilling their further political ambitions. Despite this, there is no doubt that the Right to Information Act has brought justice to lakhs of people by exposing the flaws in the government system. But it is also true that in recent years the misuse of the RTI Act has also increased tremendously.
In many cases, this law is being used in the wrong way. In the name of public interest, people are demanding redundant, redundant, and private information, due to which human resources and public money are being spent. Also, privacy is being interfered with by this.
If we talk about the achievements of this law in ten years, then today RTI has created fear in the minds of government employees and politicians. On the other hand, it has become common for those seeking information under RTI to receive threats in retaliation.
If there is a possibility of harm to a big personality from any information, then in that case the person seeking information is not unusual. Dozens of RTI activists have been killed since the law came into force. Still, despite all the loopholes, the RTI Act is being considered the last ray of hope among the downtrodden and deprived people of society.
Former Chief Central Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah also believes that the deprived sections of society can get their rights through RTI.
Through this law, the common man can ensure his participation in governance and this law also makes the government accountable to the general public.
There is no doubt that the real definition of democracy and Gandhiji’s concept of village self-government has been further enriched by the Right to Information Act. The Right to Information Act reflects the mental state of India that this country does not just want development in statistics, but along with development, it also wants to make its citizens aware of their rights. Proper development of the country can also be done keeping this concept in mind, otherwise, one-sided development would be meaningless.