For More Info Log on to

Google Groups Subscribe to RTI Group
Browse Archives at

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

RTI to usher in an era of transparency

TIMES NEWS NETWORK : Lucknow: The Right to Information era spells an era of transparency and openness where the common man has the implicit right to information in order to eliminate corruption, said Justice SC Verma, chairman, Good Governance Forum, addressing the training workshop on implementation of ‘Right to Information (RTI) Act 2005’ organised by Lucknow Management Association (LMA).
“The RTI Act empowers the public to demand information about the decision-making process. This means sensitising the government and its officers about the public requirement and to meet the challenge about providing the right to information,” he said. The demand for better services would drive the implementation of the act, he added. The act spells out that the public now has right to government records, documents, memos, emails, opinions, advice, press release, circulars, reports, papers, samples models, data materials held in electronic form. The common man has the right to demand this in public interest from the government’s public information officer (PIO). Failure to provide the same within 30 days — is deemed as refusal.
After this the common man can seek justice from the appellate authority (AA). First appellate (senior officer to PIO) within 30 days from the date of refusal letter. If this too fails then he/she has the chance of a second appeal, to go to State Information Commission (SIC), n 90 days from the date of decision of first AA. Appeal against the SIC
can then be filed before the high court and supreme court.
“No longer a slogan, this act is a harbinger of change — a torch bearer in this age of information,” said Jayant Krishna, president, Lucknow Management Association (LMA). A change in attitude and mindset has to be brought about through training of officers regarding transparency and responsibility in order to provide information to the public. This will change the way the government works and gives it an opportunity to reinvent itself,” he said.
It’s a people-friendly act, which enables a citizen to play a proactive role in governance. The aim of the act is to make the government more responsive of its actions. In United Kingdom, there were debates for five years on implementation, training and awareness of the public and administrative staff to bring in public accountability. This was not done in India. A structure has been set up but at grassroots level the public awareness is lacking, said Dhirendra Krishna, a former army officer who has organised nine workshops on the RTI Act. However, there were words of caution from Anis Ansari, the agriculture production commissioner. “It’s a double-edged sword,” he said, adding “as a lot of time and effort of government officers is wasted in gathering the information, this needs to be streamlined.”
There are no doubt teething troubles at the moment. “The worst is that the common man is unaware of his rights and i 75% of the cases, the RTI is being used by the government servants to find out inhouse information only,” said Sohini Paul, project officer, right to information programme, under Commonwealth Human Rights initiative.
Publication: Times Of India Lucknow; Date:2007 Feb 15; Section:Times City; Page Number 3

No comments: