We have to admit this fact that RTI Act has actually very useful and important Act. I have discussed with few of the Public Information Officer of various departments on their experience. They have shared their feeling that situation is this that public/ journalist and individuals have become very aware about RTI and few of Govt. Offices are virtually threaten when any RTI application put up before them. Every day the scope of RTI is increasing and it has covered a very vast arena already ( thanks to Supreme Court and various Information Commissioners) .
Our favorite case under RTI Case laws is Union of India Vs Association for Democratic Reforms and another, Civil Appeal No. 7178/2001, dated 2nd May 2002 where Hon’ble Supreme Court had made it clear that voters have all the rights to know the Criminal History about the candidates contesting for MP or MLA seats. Supreme court has said that these information is very much require for a voter to make up his mind for a candidate. After this land mark judgment, Election commission has made a mandatory provision for candidate that they have to give affidavit and information in prescribed format mentioning details of the cases pending against the candidate, movable / immovable / bank balance sheet and educational qualification of the candidate. This judgement alone is sufficient to understand the power of the RTI Act otherwise the common public could never get these basic information about the leaders they are giving their valuable votes.
See few recent activities in the field of “Right To Information” widely published in news papers in past few weeks.
- The Central Information Commission asked the Prime Minister’s Office to provide details of the foreign visits under taken by National Advisory Council Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and the expenses incurred on those trips upon an application of Hissar based Individual.
- The Central Information Commission asked the President's Secretariat to make public all the documents on the declaration of Emergency and related information/material considered by the then President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed in 1975.
- Chief Information Commissioner asked CBI for delay in information in the Bofors pay-offs scam which is pending since 23 years and briefs give t Lawyers In this case.
- The Maharashtra Chief Information Commissioner ordered Reliance Infrastructure Limited to provide necessary information to the consumers. The Commission said that since Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) has provided the power distribution license to Reliance Infrastructure Limited under public service, it is liable to fall under RTI.
It can be understood that their may be misuse of RTI as well and people can ask such information which can create trouble to actual beneficiary of the information. This is a necessary evil and well said by some one the good and ugly is two side of the same coin. In these circumstance one should understand that information relating to national security and sovereignty, privileged information given in the constitution and exception list of the RTI Act can not be made public in larger interest of nation.
Still there is a lot of scope to wider the purview of RTI. Question remain whether Private matters viz benami transaction of Properties and Shares, Fake companies, Private entities, huge private investments in various commodities and in market etc. should not it be covered under RTI Act as it effects the public at large and affect the economy of the nation.