Thursday, July 10, 2008

India's RTI Act better than US's FOIA

India's Right to Information Act better than US: US’s FOIA expert

MyNews Network

Ahmedabad: An expert on the US Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which can be termed as the American version of the Right to Information (RTI) Act, late Wednesday said India’s law is better than that of United States.

Thomas Susman, who has been working on FOIA since 1968, was here to share the American experience of the law over the years.

"India has a better law than the us. India has an information commissioner, penalty for delay in providing information, specification on fees to be collected, US has nothing of that kind," said Susman who has already visited four Indian states.

"The experience of the Freedom of Information Act in the US has been great but not good enough. Though enacted in 1966, it came into effect only in 1967, and since then, has gone through a series of amendments over the years," Susman further said.

"In the early days we faced political pressures to shut down information being given to the people," Susman added.

"We did not have a vigorous society or involvement of civil society and activists who pushed for such a regulation. But we had the press and the media, who along with NGOs, have been instrumental in the enactment of FOIA", Susman said.

Talking about his Indian experience on RTI Susman said, "If I sum up my experience here I would say there is a vast difference in implementation of the same act in different parts of the country."

"There are things good and bad in both the laws. RTI is like a tool which will rust if not used," Susman added.

© 2008


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The RTI Act was passed by the Lok Sabha (Lower House) on 11 May 2005, by the Raj Sabha (Upper House) on 12 May 2005 and received Presidential assent on 15 June 2005. Parts of the Act came into force upon Presidential assent, but the Act came fully into force on 12 October 2005, 120 days after Presidential assent.

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