Thursday, June 20, 2024

Protect RTI


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In this editorial column, we had written against the violation of the Right to Information Act in Manipur by vested interests comprising government officials. What is curious is that the Centre has the intention of restricting the application of RTI legislation in such areas as sport and nuclear safety. As a matter of fact, these two areas call for the utmost transparency especially in view of the scandal over last year’s Commonwealth Games and the storm of protest over nuclear power plants in Jaitapur and Kudankulam. The RTI Act was passed in 2005 but right from the beginning; it met with opposition from various government quarters. Demand has been made for removing file notings from the purview of the RTI Act. Such moves run counter to the principle of open governance. The efforts to bypass the RTI Act or to restrict the scope of the operation of the Act betray the government’s resistance to transparency

RTI has extended the rights of people significantly. RTI activists have used the law to bring to light a whole host of scams in recent years. That proves the need for such legislation beyond all doubt. The great number of attacks on RTI activists is also evidence of its efficacy. Admittedly, it has to be acknowledged that the piling up of applications against RTI violations may stand in the way of government functioning speedily. Classification of government records may overcome this obstacle. Non-sensitive government records can be put out on the web. The advanced countries follow the practice. As for sensitive government information, it may be kept under wraps for a period of time before divulging it to the public. But then who will draw the line between sensitive and non-sensitive information?

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