[Answered] Do you think that the RTI Act is fulfilling its intended purpose?

Introduction: Contextual introduction.

Body: Explain how RTI Act is fulfilling its intended purpose. Also write associated issues.

Conclusion: Write a way forward.

The RTI Act, 2005 empowers people to participate in the policymaking process, by providing access to information relating to the functioning of all public authorities. Cross section of citizens including activists, lawyers, bureaucrats, researchers and journalists are using RTI to unearth corruption of all kinds from the Panchayat level right up to Parliament.

Fulfilling its intended purpose:

  • Enabled citizen rights: a majority of the RTI applications are filed by people who are asking about their basic rights and entitlements. So it has fulfilled its purpose to that extent.
  • Anti-corruption tool: To hold high offices to account, people have used the RTI law to know what is happening with taxpayers’ money. This has enabled them to expose big-ticket scams such as the Adarsh, Commonwealth Games and Vyapam scams.
  • Empowered people’s voice:  According to estimates, nearly 60 lakh applications are being filed every year. It is used by citizens as well as the media. They’ve also been able to expose human rights violations, and then force accountability in those cases as well.
  • Strengthened democracy:Every citizen has right to claim information from public authorities under the act. This strengthened democracy through active participation of public.
  • Features leading to transparency:  All the Government departments along with a number of bodies which receive substantial funding from the Government have been brought under the RTI.

Issues:

  • The beauty of this Act is its simplicity. But, in some states complex format or rules create hindrances for people.
  • There arehuge vacancies in information commissions which mean that appeals and complaints keep pending.
  • Untrained staffand a non-cooperative set of public information officers (PIOs).
  • Many commissioners have been seen openly expressing their political inclinations. It creates a sense of bias among the petitioners.
  • Not all institutions are being covered under the Act. E.g. judiciary is not under the act.
  • The Implementation of RTI requires the PIOs to provide information to the applicant through photocopies, soft copies etc. These facilities are not available at Block and Panchayat level.
  • Awareness about RTI is yet very low. Awareness level is low especially among the disadvantaged communities such as women rural population, OBC/SC/ST population.

A strong political system is a must for the RTI regime to flourish.  A code of conduct must be evolved for the central and state information commissioners to keep them away from any political influence.

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