[Answered] “Transparency must be accompanied by accountability, and that is where the RTI act has great value and significance.” Comment.

Demand of the question
Introduction. Contextual Introduction.
Body. Importance of accountability with transparency. RTI as a tool of accountability and transparency.
Conclusion. Way forward.

In public services both transparency and accountability are must to ensure good governance. It is evident that transparency is a pre-condition of accountability. There is a direct link between transparency and accountability, and both strengthen each other. Thus accountability must accompany transparency as if a civil servant is not accountable for his decisions, transparency would not fulfill the purpose.

Importance of accountability with transparency:

  1. Accountability lead to the obligation of an individual or an organisation (either in the public or the private sectors) to accept responsibility for their activities, and to disclose them in a transparent manner. This includes the responsibility for decision-making processes, money or other entrusted property.
  2. Accountability result in answerability (the duty of an individual or organisation to answer to their decisions and actions) and punishments in case of malpractice.
  3. If citizens are to hold their government accountable, they must be able to find out what it is doing.
  4. High levels of corruption and poor quality of public services, especially in developing countries, enhanced the demand for accountability from the civil society.
  5. Social accountability have been highly valued to curb corruption, especially in countries with a systematic problem of corruption and weak institutional systems.

RTI- A tool of transparency and accountability:

  1. The Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005 was enacted to ensure transparency and accountability. As per the Act any citizen can write and ask for information from a “public authority”. 
  2. The Act also requires that public authorities make information about themselves available to the public, mandatory disclosure.
  3. A progressive civil society has constantly challenged hesitation and delay in providing information.
  4. RTI has become a weapon in the hands of common citizens to fight for their rights. Earlier citizens had to struggle to get what was rightfully theirs. RTI has removed such bottlenecks.
  5. In the past 14 years, it has been instrumental in uncovering a list of major scams. The success of the Act earned it the fourth place among 111 countries in the annual rating of similar empowering laws across the world in the year 2016. Scams like Adarsh Society Scam, 2g scam, Commonwealth Games Scam, Indian Red Cross Society Scam are some noticeable achievements under RTI.
  6. It has given ordinary citizens the confidence and the right to ask questions of government authorities. The RTI Act has empowered people in containing corruption and bringing transparency and accountability in the working of the Government. According to estimates, nearly 60 lakh applications are being filed every year. It is used by citizens as well as the media.
  7. Public authorities have an obligation to provide the sought information to the applicants with certain restrictions related to national security, personal information and third party information. This strengthened accountability through active participation of public.
  8. A large amount of information has to be placed in the public domain by ways of manuals prescribed under the Act. All the Government departments along with a number of bodies which receive substantial funding from the Government have been brought under the RTI. This has ushered an era of transparency.

Transparency and accountability must go hand in hand. Since the implementation of the RTI Act, it has established itself as an important tool in handling corruption and inefficiency in the Government. Although there have been instances of misuse of the Act, but it has served its purpose well. Issues and loopholes to further the objectives of transparency and accountability.

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