Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Right to information Basic to human rights

Right to information Basic to human rights
Binod Kumar Upadhyay

Added At: 2010-10-27 10:04 PM

Right to information as basic human right is the foundation of a well-functioning democracy. It informs citizens about their rights and entitlements. It helps them make informed decisions in their life and choose the right politicians and hold them accountable for their promises and actions. It enables them to participate in wider social, political and economic spheres of life and enhances their capability to influence the institutional arrangements. Access to information lies at the heart of good governance as it can ensure transparency, accountability and empowerment of citizens. 

The terms right to information and freedom of information are often used interchangeably and have long been regarded as a fundamental human right Common Article 19 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) recognize right to information as an implied right of freedom of expression.

Correct information at the right time reduces the possibility of misuse of resources and lessens corruption. It also helps governance system function better, makes service providers accountable for their actions, creates participatory and transparent environment for people to contribute in policy formulation and establishing rule of law. It also gives people a legal right to demand entitlements and monitor the use or misuse of funds meant for them.

In India, Right to Information Act was passed in June 2005. The Act applies to all States and Union Territories of India, except the State of Jammu and Kashmir. This Act provides every citizen right to information and access to the information held in the public agencies. Similarly, this Act has made provision of an independent 'National Information Commission' to for the protection and promotion of right to information. 

Under the provisions of the Act, any citizen may request information from a "public authority" (a body of Government or "instrumentality of State") which is required to reply expeditiously or within thirty days. The Act also requires every public authority to computerize their records for wide dissemination and to proactively publish certain categories of information so that the citizens need minimum recourse to request for information formally. This act came fully into force on 12 October 2005. 

Arvind Kejriwal, a former bureaucrat with the Revenue Service has created a silent social revolution in the Right to Information (RTI) movement in India through his organization, 'Parivartan'. Propelling common people to invoke the Act, he streamlined the Public Distribution System (PDS) in Delhi where information obtained under the RTI .His passion and dedication to this movement in India have been recognized with Ramon Magsaysay award for Emergent Leadership in 2006.

In Pakistan, the Freedom of Information Ordinance was promulgated in October 2002 to provide for transparency and freedom of information to all. Similarly, the Bangladesh government has issued the RTI Ordinance 2008 that has been warmly welcomed by civil society, human right activists and the public at large. In Sri Lanka, Right to Information bill was drafted in 2002 but it has not yet been passed. 

In Nepal, the Interim Constitution (IC) recognizes the right to information under fundamental rights. Article 27 of the IC guarantees the right to information. It provides that every citizen has the right to seek and receive information of a personal nature or relating to matters of public importance, provided that no one shall be required to provide information which has been declared secret by law. In 2007, the government has enacted 'Right to Information Act 2007'. Article 3 of this Act provides every citizen right to information and access to the information held in the public agencies. The Act specifies that citizens have a right to: Request any information (as defined); take copies of documents; inspect documents, works and records; and take certified samples of materials of work. 

According to law, Right to Information denotes the right to request and obtain information of public importance held in public agencies. It also includes the right to study or observe any written documents, materials held in public agencies or proceedings of such public agencies, to obtain a verified copies of such written documents, to visit or observe the places where any construction of public importance is going on and to obtain verified samples of any materials or to obtain information held in any type of machines.

The public is guaranteed with access to information except on matters relating to someone's privacy and matters that could pose a threat to sovereignty, national security, integrity, communal harmony, criminal investigation, international relations, nation's fiscal or monetary interests or individual's security.

The government authorities are hardly open to the idea of openness. Right to Information Act compels them to provide information to the citizens.

Upadhyay is associated with RATC


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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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This Blog Spot is meant for publishing reports about the usage of RTI Act (Right to Information Act, 2005) so as to create an awareness to the general public and also to keep it as a ready reckoner by them. So the readers may extend their gratitude towards the Author as we quoted at the bottom of each Post under the title "Courtesy".Furthermore, the Blog Authors are no way responsible for the correctness of the materials published herein and the readers may verify the concerned valuable sources.

Dinamani - RTI News