Right  to Information -Master Key to
Good Governance

What is the objective of 2nd Administrative Reforms Commission?

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·      
The Second Administrative Reforms Commission was
constituted to prepare a detailed blueprint for revamping the public
administration system.

·      
The Commission suggested measures to achieve a
proactive, responsive, accountable, sustainable and efficient administration
for the country at all levels of the Government.

“If liberty and equality, as is thought by some are
chiefly to be found in democracy, they

will be
best attained when all persons alike share in the government to the utmost”.

                                                                                                                                
       Aristotle

Right to information

 

 

What is the importance of RTI ?

·      
Right to information has been seen as the key to
strengthening participatory democracy

and
ushering in people centred governance.

·      
Access to information can empower the poor and
the weaker sections of society to demand and get information about public
policies and actions, thereby leading to their welfare.

·      
RTI helps in bringing Transparency which is the
necessary component of Good Governance and without good governance, no amount of
developmental schemes can bring improvements in the quality of life of the
citizens.

·      
The effective implementation of the Right to Information
Act will create an environment of vigilance which will help promote functioning
of a more participatory democracy.

 

 

RTI ACT

This law
is very comprehensive and covers almost all matters of governance and has

the
widest possible reach, being applicable to government at all levels – Union,
State and

Local as
well as recipients of government grants. Access to information under this Act
is

extensive
with minimum exemptions. Even these exemptions are subject to strict
safeguards.

1.1.4 As
may be expected in a new legislation of this kind, permanently impacting on all

agencies
of government, there are bound to be implementation issues and problem areas,

which
need to be addressed. The Commission therefore decided to look at the
implementation

of this
new legislation and make suitable recommendations to fulfil the objectives of
the

Act.
While the Act applies to all branches of government – Executive, Legislative
and Judicial,

the
Commission’s study and recommendations largely pertain to the Executive branch
at all

levels.
However, the Commission has also carefully examined some of the key issues
which

need to
be addressed in the Legislative and Judicial branches for effective
implementation of

the Act.
It is for the competent authorities of the Legislatures and Judiciary to
examine these

recommendations
and adopt them with modifications to suit their requirements.

 

1.1.5 One
of the terms of reference of the Administrative Reforms Commission pertains

to the
Freedom of Information, specifically the following aspects:-

a. To
review the confidentiality classification of government documents specially

with
reference to the Official Secrets Act.

b. To
encourage transparency and access to non-classified data.

c.
Disclosure of information and transparency as a supplement to the Right to

Information
of the citizens.

1.1.6 The
Commission has examined the relevant laws, rules and manuals which have an

impact on
freedom of information. It has specifically examined the Official Secrets Act,
the

Indian
Evidence Act, Manual of Departmental Security Instructions and those pertaining
to

office
procedures and Conduct Rules and made recommendations in respect of these.

1.1.7 In
order to elicit views from different stakeholders on Freedom of Information the

Commission
organized a National Colloquium at the National Judicial Academy, Bhopal in

December
2005. The list of participants in the National Colloquium organized by the

Commission
on the subject is in Annexure-I(1). The recommendations of the Colloquium

are at
Annexure-I(2). The questionnaire circulated to various stakeholders is in
Annexure-

I(3). The
case studies conducted or relied on by the Commission are in Annexure-I(4). The

comparative
study of transparency laws in various States and other countries is in
Annexure-

I(5) and
I(6) respectively.

1.1.8
This Report is in two parts: Part I focusses on Official Secrets and
confidentiality

issues
and is divided into three chapters: Official Secrets; Rules and Procedures; and

Confidentiality
Classification. Part II focuses on the steps required for effective
implementation

of the
Act and is divided into four chapters: Rights and Obligations, Issues in
Implementation,

Application
of the Act to the Legislature and the Judiciary and Removal of Difficulties.

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