RIGHT TO INFORMATION: THE SINE QUA NON IN DEMOCRATIC INDIA


INTRODUCTION

In a country like India where the govt consists of numberless agents of the general public, each of them must be to blame for their own conduct and hence, there's no room for maintaining secrets. In just a decade, the flourishing movement for the right to information in India has significantly empowered the standard citizen. People of India have long battled to attain the Constitution and thereby the inalienable fundamental rights. The right to information is additionally one amongst fundamental rights inherent in the Constitution. Fundamental Right to Information is the sine qua non of democracy in India because historically the culture of the chief has been one amongst secrecy in India since colonial rule. There has never been constant and resolute access to information. The right to Information lays the very foundation to make good governance, transparency, accountability, participation and to eliminate the concept of corruption simultaneously it's considered awfully basic to any democracy and is known to be a fifth pillar to confirm democracy.


ITS IMPORTANCE IN A DEMOCRACY

I. RIGHT TO INFORMATION AND CORRUPTION

Right to Information Act, 2005 was accepted with the objectives of Greater and superior Transparency within the working of public authorities. Enhancement within the accountability and performance of the Indian government. Higher cognitive process procedure and Reduction or decrease within the corruption of the govt. departments. It's likely to scale back corruption and increase administrative efficiency to date because it provides every citizen of the country an enforceable right to question, examine, audit, review and assess government acts and decisions to confirm that these are in step with the principles of public interest, integrity.


II. RIGHT TO INFORMATION AND PUBLIC INTEREST

In general, following may constitute public interest favouring disclosure of knowledge that promotes transparency and accountability of public authorities in making decisions by them. Promoting transparency and accountability in spending the general public money. Detecting corruption, injustice and negligence. Revealing the data affecting public safety. Allowing disclosing information, permitting the general public to create an informed decision, promoting a debate and discussion on the problem of public importance.


III. RIGHT TO INFORMATION AND HUMAN RIGHTS

Right to information ensures openness, transparency and accountability in administration by permitting right to information about different issues as varied as deteriorating civic amenity, properties of the elected or nominated representatives, utilization of the general public funds, quality and standard of products and services and basic human rights. The standard of democracy, therefore depends to an outsized extent on the degree to which information is ascertained is an antidemocratic commission, perpetuating bureaucratic despotism.


ORIGIN IN INDIA

The right to information campaign in India has its genesis in Rajasthan led by the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan and some other relevant organisations and people that have connection to it are The National Campaign on People's Right to Information, Parivartan, The Association for Democratic Reforms, Anna Hazare.


● Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan

About: The first major step Led by Aruna Roy forward in the history of the freedom of information movement in India was spearheaded by Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS) in Rajasthan that forced the state government to pass the right to information Act in 1997.

The motive: Demanding social audit of accounts in the villages and thereby exposed the corruption at the lower levels of administration. MKSS's demand for right to information arose from the demand to get minimum wages and check rampant corruption by inspection of muster rolls and bill vouchers. They employed a direct technique to fight for the right to information, namely, the use of jansunwai or public hearings.


National Campaign on People's Right to Information

About: The MKSS gave rise to a National Campaign on People's Right to Information (NCPRI), which was formed as a support group for the MKSS and to do advocacy on right to information at a national level.

The motive: Its main objectives are to provide active support to grassroots struggles for right to information; assistance in critical review of rules and executive instructions for the right to information, capacity building and support to citizens' groups to exercise the right to information; and demystification of government programs, laws and policies including technical documents in order to make them comprehensible to people.


● The Association for Democratic Reforms

About: It is based in Ahmedabad in Gujarat seeks to bring transparency in elections and makes an attempt to cleanse the electoral system.

The motive:The organisation is responsible for the court cases which resulted in the voter's right to know being declared a fundamental right by the Supreme Court. The latest judgement of the apex court makes it mandatory for every candidate to file five affidavits at the time of filing nominations.


● Anna Hazare

About: The struggle of Anna Hazare, a Gandhian from Ralegaon Siddhi village, 85 kms from Pune in Maharashtra, who gave a clarion call to root out corruption is no less significant.

The motive: The Maharashtra Government had taken steps to introduce their own RTI Act in 2000 but repealed it in favour of a more powerful Right to Information Ordinance in September 2002 due to growing pressure by the civil society groups. Since the Ordinance was going to lapse, the Maharashtra Government made efforts to convert it into an Act but even after its passage by both the houses of the assembly the Act was lying with the Centre for consideration. The Central Government finally took notice of his demand and the President gave his consent to the Maharashtra RTI Act in August 2003.


RELEVANT LEGAL PROVISIONS

Article 19(1)(A) Right to Information is an integral part of the liberty of speech and expression enshrined within the Indian constitution, which is thought to be the primary condition of liberty. The expression “freedom of speech and expression” has been held to incorporate the correct to amass information and disseminate the same.

The exceptions under the laws noted in Article 19(2) entitled the govt. to withhold information to the subsequent matters: mediation, National security (including defence) and public safety, Investigation, detection and prevention of crime, Internal deliberations of the govt., Information received the boldness from a source outside the govt., If the data can violate the correct to privacy of a personal, if disclosed, If information can confer an unfair advantage on some persons or to an unfair disadvantage, if disclosed, Information which is subject to a claim of legal professional privilege, Information about scientific discoveries, Much of this has been covered by the correct of knowledge Act, 2006.

Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights “Everyone has the correct to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to carry opinions without interference and to hunt, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and no matter frontiers”

Article 39 of the Constitution of India makes clear that the top of the State in India isn't doctrinaire but practical. The humanist path towards socialistic patterns of society is right for India and Article 39 (b) and (c) illustrates this ideal and it also illustrates the doctrine of growth amid distributive justice


LANDMARK CASES

Bennett Coleman & Co. vs. Union of India the case within which the court struck down the newsprint control order saying that it directly affected the Petitioners right to freely publish and circulate their paper. In that, it violated their right to freedom of speech and expression. The judges remarked, “It is indisputable that by freedom of the press meant the rights of all citizens to talk, publish and express their views” and “Freedom of speech and expression includes within its compass the rights of all citizens to read and be told.”

This principle was clearly enunciated in Indian Express Newspapers(Bombay) Pvt. Ltd.vs Union of India where the court said , “The basic purpose of freedom of speech and expression is that each one members should be able to form their beliefs and communicate them freely to others. In sum, the elemental principle involved here is that the people‟s right to grasp.”

Another development was in a very subsequent case Manubhai D. Shah v. Life assurance Corporation within which it absolutely was held that if a political candidate media or channel was made available to at least one party to precise its views or criticism, the identical should even be made available to a different contradictory view. The Court held that a state instrumentality having monopolistic control over any publication couldn't refuse to publish any views contrary to its own.

In the case State of U.P v. Raj Narain The Court said, “ While there are overwhelming arguments for giving to the chief the ability to see what matters may prejudice peace, those arguments give no sanction to giving the chief exclusive power to see what matters may prejudice the general public interest. Once considerations of national security are omitted there are few matters of public interest which can't be safely discussed in public”.

Justice K.K.Mathew went further to mention, “In a government of responsibility like ours, where all the agents of the general public must be accountable for their conduct, there will be but few secrets. The people of this country have a right to grasp every public act, everything that's worn out a public way, by their public functionaries. Whenever one claims secrecy for his public activities which don't have any negative effect over the general public security, he must take care of the rights available to the people. It's not within the public interest to hide the routine business with the veil of secrecy. Such secrecy can seldom be legitimately desired. The responsibility of officials to elucidate or to justify their acts is that the chief safeguard against oppression and corruption.”

In People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) v. Union of India The Supreme Court treated this aspect of freedom elaborately. The right of the citizens to get information on matters referring to public acts flows from the elemental Right enshrined in Article 19(1)(a). The right to information is in basic a part of Article 19(1)(a) as for the promotion of freedom of expression it's essential to secure the knowledge associated with the essential details of the candidate contesting the elections.

In Dinesh Trivedi, M.P. and others v. Union of India, the Supreme Court treated the right to freedom of data and observed “in modern constitutional democracies, it's axiomatic that citizens have a right to grasp about the affairs of the govt which, having been elected by them, seek to formulate sound policies of governance aimed toward their welfare”.


CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF RTI: TRANSPARENCY, ACCOUNTABILITY & OPENNESS

Transparency and Openness: Access to any information could be a great enabler of transparency and therefore the citizens right to Information is taken into account because the soul of the transparency that improves the standard, ethics and therefore the higher cognitive process power of the concerned authorities. Without the concept of accountability, transparency and openness would be of minute value. The presence of both accountability and transparency could be a precondition to effective, competent and equitable management public institutions.


Accountability & Public Accountability: Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Public accountability could be a facet of administrative efficiency and therefore the publication of any information is an instrument for the oversight of citizens. Information is taken into account collectively of the means for fighting against corruption therefore the govt. That makes or produces the trustworthy flow of knowledge creates greater openness, transparency and accountability. Therefore accountability and governance is the part and parcel of the govt., which acts as principle and therefore the agent and makes an impression on the general public.

Participation & Good governance: It requires that each one civil societies should have the chance to participate during the formulation of development strategies that directly affect the communities and every one such groups should even be able to participate into the look and implementation of programs and projects. This characteristic of governance is one amongst the essential elements for securing the commitment and support for the projects and enhancing the excellence and quality of their implementation.


CONCLUSION

The Right to Information has honestly proved to be one of the largest milestones and a prime step towards ensuring the participatory and transparent improvement process within the country. However, there is a want to retain the impetus of these rules and should now not permit it at any fee both to die down or to be converted into only a one-of-a-kind piece of law languishing on any piece of paper. It is surely within the interest of all of the stakeholders to remain dedicated and cautious so that the goals and functions of this Act do now not get frustrated by using any bureaucratic manipulations. This shall perhaps be one of the greatest contributions toward fortifying democracy.

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