Rashi (name changed) knew nothing about the Right to Information (RTI) Act until the 23-year-old daughter of a retired bus driver used it to get back her valuables from her estranged fiancée's family.
The resident of Kalyanpuri area in east Delhi had got engaged to a man in January 2008. The groom's side took cash, jewellery and household items from Rashi's family and forced them to throw a lavish party on the occasion.
Rashi's father spared no expenses even though he has three other children to bring up on his modest savings as a retired bus driver.
However, the groom's family refused to announce the marriage date, saying they first wanted a car, and kept the matter hanging for a couple of months. The distressed girl's family, unable to fulfil the dowry demands of the groom's side, approached an NGO to help them get the money and household items back. Only then did they come to know about RTI.
"RTI has cut many inflated egos to size. At the behest of the groom's family, Rashi's father threw a lavish party in a community hall with over 200 guests. The groom's family also took Rs.51,000 in cash, jewellery and other household items," social activist Amita Joshi, who was approached by Rashi's family, told IANS.
Counselled by the NGO, Rashi's family decided against the marriage and also wanted the money and valuables back from the groom, who is a daily wager with a civic agency in the capital.
"On March 18, they filed a complaint with the women's cell at Nanakpura, which asked them to file the same with the women's cell in Krishna Nagar," Joshi said.
However, police did not take any action. About 15 days later, the girl's family decided to file an RTI application in the matter, asking Delhi Police for the daily progress report in their complaint.
"The power of RTI can be gauged from the fact that after filling the application April 1, we received a call from the women's cell at Krishna Nagar on April 3. We had only asked about the action taken by police on our complaint," Rashi told IANS.
The RTI Act was passed by the central government in 2005, empowering the common man to ask the government about all its activities, thus promoting transparency and accountability.
"The police called us and the groom's family several times but the latter refused to come," Rashi said.
"Finally, we approached the deputy commissioner of police, east Delhi, who referred our case to the Kalyan Puri police station where the station house officer (SHO) called both the parties and settled the case.
"Within a week, we got our cash, jewellery and household items back," Rashi said.
The girl, who has passed Class 12, has now decided to start life afresh and is applying for a constable's post with Delhi Police.