Eight years after the Right to Information (RTI) Act came into effect, city-based activists continue to fear that bureaucratic pressures, lapses and delays are signaling the death knell of the powerful citizen’s tool.
On Tuesday, pioneers of the information movement from Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS) including Aruna Roy, Nikhil Dey and Shankar Singh were in the city to discuss the existing state of the RTI tool and ways to make it more effective. Almost 15 city-based RTI activists participated in the discussion to share experiences and challenges that they encountered while using the tool.
From delays in seeking responses to their appeals to the lack of adequate informed manpower, citizen activists rued that routine hurdles delayed the process of retrieving information from government bodies.
“Although the act has given citizens an opportunity to seek information, it is being challenged by threats emerging from the bureaucracy, information commissions and the judiciary,” said Shailesh Gandhi, former central information commissioner. “Several judicial orders and verdicts on RTI cases have rendered the judiciary as a threat to the existence of the act,” he added. In a bid to understand the act in detail, a three-day convention, starting February 16, is being organised in Hyderabad.
Roy spoke about the challenges that were encountered while formulating and implementing the act in 2005 and the need to ensure accountability in the overall functioning of information commissions across the country. “All the issues encountered by RTI applicants need to be taken into account for furthering the process of improving the RTI act,” said Roy.