RTI-2-IASToppers
Editorial Notes

[Editorial Notes] A duty to publish: On RTI

The Right to Information (RTI) Act’s role in promoting a more informed citizenry and an accountable government has never been in doubt ever since its implementation in 2005. But there have been persistent and growing distrust and suspicion.
By IASToppers
December 23, 2019

Contents

  • The Problems with RTI
  • “Locus Standi” in RTI
  • Conclusion

A duty to publish: On RTI

For IASToppers’ Editorial Simplified Archive, click here

The Problems with RTI

  1. No pro-active dissemination of information: Section 4 of the RTI Act calls for pro-active and voluntary dissemination of information, but only a few Central and State institutions have published relevant information. Rajasthan has taken a lead through its Jan Soochna portal.

Jan-Soochna-portal

  1. Vacancies in Information Commissions: The other problem has been persisting vacancies in the State and Central Information Commissions, which was, recently, raised in a plea in the Supreme Court.
  2. Information not in public spirit: Supreme court noted that RTI officials were sensing fear due to the kind of queries they are getting that were were not always in public spirit and were posed by people who had no ‘locus standi’ (relation) in the matter regarding the queries.

 “Locus Standi” in RTI

  • The argument given by Supreme court on locus standi is difficult to accept as the RTI Act explicitly rejects the need for locus standi in Section 6(2) which says “an applicant making request for information shall not be required to give any reason for requesting the information.”
  • If Section 6(2) was not in RTI act, Public authorities (PAs) could choose to deny information to general citizens.
  • Data on RTI requests since 2005 show that the yearly rejection rate has come down steadily to 4.7% in 2018-19. However, a change in the Act that seeks locus standi as a criterion could dramatically increase this number.
  • Rather than focusing on locus standi, public authorities should provide greater voluntary dissemination on government portals, which should ease their load.

Conclusion

Right to Information (RTI), usually used as a synonym for democracy, is a tool to strengthen citizens’ sovereignty. The RTI is all about making citizens informed and Informed societies mean a lively and functioning democracy.

However, asking the reason- locus standi – for an RTI does not support the true spirit of democracy.

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Editorial Notes Mains 2020
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