Prime Minister Narendra Modi, today described the “Right To Information” Act as a tool through which the common man has got not just the right to know, but also the right to question those in power.
In his remarks at the 10th Annual Convention of the Central Information Commission (CIC), the Prime Minister said that the Union Government’s “Digital India” initiative is complimentary to RTI, because putting information online brings transparency, which in turn, builds trust.
The Prime Minister called for an end to the silo-approach in Government. He said administrative processes should be run based on trusting the people, rather than doubting the people. The Prime Minister said RTI has become a tool for good governance. He also described how the Pro Active Governance and Timely Implementation (PRAGATI) platform developed in the PMO has become a vibrant platform for monitoring progress of projects.
During his address, the Union Minister of Finance, Corporate Affairs and Information and Broadcasting, Arun Jaitley complemented the Central Information Commissioners and State Information Commissioners on the completion of a decade of RTI Act’s functioning. Terming RTI as an ‘exemplary law’, he said that it has transformed the society and India has passed the first stage of ‘civilized governance’.
He said that the use of technology has made it more effective, less time-consuming and cost-effective. Commenting upon the constraints and apprehensions related to RTI Act, he said that sometimes too much openness is considered to be bad for governance. In this case, the administrators of the Act should use their discretion to achieve a balance between right to information and prevent its misuse at the same time, he said.
Jaitley said a line needs to be drawn between the public domain and privacy issue, while implementing the Act. The Act is of great utility to the society and will continue to grow and gain maturity, he added.
In his welcome address Vijay Sharma, Chief Information Commissioner said that Commission is looking at the RTI Act as timely, relevant and usable legislation. He mentioned that after one decade, the time has come for stock taking of the past experiences and stage setting for the future. He said that there is a need for appraisal and analysis of previous experiences and making the legislation more accessible, transparent for its future users. The Central Information Commissioner also highlighted the need for autonomy, fairness and trust required for better implementation of the RTI Act.
On the completion of ten years of RTI Act, the first CIC of India, Wajahat Habibullah said that the scope of RTI should not be limited only to know, but should also aim at ‘public participation’ in the process of governance through RTI.