Can Right to Information RTI Check Corruption in India?

Ram Nath Kovind at the inauguration of the 13th Annual Convention of Central Information Commission (CIC), in New Delhi on October 12, 2018. Photo: PIB
Ram Nath Kovind at the inauguration of the 13th Annual Convention of Central Information Commission (CIC), in New Delhi on October 12, 2018. Photo: PIB

The President of India, Ram Nath Kovind, inaugurated the 13th Annual Convention of the Central Information Commission (CIC) in New Delhi today.

Speaking on the occasion, the President said that free flow of information is the essence of democracy. And for the people of a free and free-spirited country, information is power.

They have a right to know how they are being governed, how public money is being spent, how public and national resources are being deployed, how public services are being delivered, and how public works and welfare programmes are being carried out.

In a democracy, he said, there is no such thing as too much information. Information overload is always preferable to information deficit.

The President said that RTI (Right to Information) is not a standalone. It is part of the larger narrative of strengthening Indian democracy, of ensuring transparency across systems of governance, and of building capacities of the common citizen to enable him or her to take informed decisions and make informed choices.

Above all, the President said, it is about nurturing the social contract of trust between the citizen and the state – where both must have faith in each other. A related and parallel implication is to ensure rational use of public resources to check instances of corruption or waste.

Speaking on the occasion, the Union Minister of State for Public Grievances Jitendra Singh said the Government is committed to strengthening the RTI Act and Institutions.

He said the number of Public Authorities brought under the RTI Act have increased from 1,600 to 2,092 during the last four years. The disposal rate of RTI applications has also increased from 20,147 in March, 2014 to 29,005 in 2018.

As regards pendency, there are more than 40,000 cases at present as compared to 24,351 in August, 2010. The increasing number of RTI cases is a result of the transparency in governance process ushered in by the Government under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he added.

Stating that the CIC at present has six Information Commissioners (ICs) besides the Chief Information Commissioner, Jitendra Singh said the Government has already initiated the process of selection of CIC and ICs as vacancies are scheduled to arise soon.

In his welcome speech, the CIC RK Mathur reiterated that the Commission is constantly working towards improving delivery of information under the RTI Act. Status of RTI appeals has been made entirely online and can be tracked in realtime, he added.

Information Commissioners, CIC, Yashovardhan Azad and MS Acharyulu were among those who were present at the event.

Photo courtesy: Press Information Bureau

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Rakesh Raman