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Raj Kumar Makkad (Adv P & H High Court Chandigarh)     14 October 2010


Nikhil Dey , convener of the National Campaign for People's Right to Information, has been in the forefront of the RTI movement. He speaks to Bharat Dogra about the achievements of the RTI and the challenges ahead: 

How do you assess the overall impact of the RTI? Sceptics say corruption is increasing more than even before. 
What i can assure them is corruption would have been much higher without the RTI. In schemes like 
NREGS, which we've monitored intensively, it is clear that the RTI when used effectively has helped to reduce corruption. I feel strongly that people who are exposing and fighting corruption feel more empowered now with access to the RTI. Such efforts now have a much higher chance of success. 

The RTI has started people on a journey which can lead to many more achievements what we can call second-generation achievements and all this taken together will be even more effective in fighting corruption. One challenge ahead is to make strong laws for the creation of Lok Pal at the Centre and Lok Ayuktas in states. Then there is the whistle-blowers Bill that needs to be made stronger for it to be truly effective. 

What do you feel about the frequent proposals for amendment of RTI Act? 

We've a good RTI law. While it is not a perfect law, at present there is no need for amending the RTI Act. More importantly, at least some of the proposals for amendments certainly appear to be efforts to weaken the RTI Act. The real need at present is better implementation of the RTI Act. In particular, there is greater need for better implementation of Section (4) of the Act relating to the government's suo motu disclosure of information. 

It has become possible to provide latest official information on implementation of 
NREGA on the website. In Rajasthan, we take this information from the website and put it on village walls. Then the villagers can check this with the village's real situation and know whether wrong records are being prepared. With some effort all information on the expenditure of various departments can also be put on their websites. 

I also feel, in terms of better selection procedures for information commissions, much more needs to be done. The public can be involved in the suggestion of suitable names, which go to a screening committee that in turn prunes this down to an acceptable number of names. This list is then sent to the selection committee provided in the law. 

Do you propose any new initiatives on the RTI front? 

We strongly feel the need to strengthen the pre-legislative consultative process. Before any new law is taken to the legislature and even to the cabinet, it should be put on the website to facilitate a wider and well-informed debate including suggestions for change. Also public hearings in various parts of the country can be organised. 

There has been a lot of concern about attacks on RTI activists about 11 murders have been reported in 2010. 
This is a very serious matter indeed and that is why we should all work to make the protection of whistle-blowers law stronger and wider, particularly taking care to include the protection of RTI activists. 

Have there been cases of RTI being misused? 

Here too the solution is to be found in greater transparency, not less. For example, if a department puts up all RTI applications on its website, chances of any misuse will be much less. Blackmailers can succeed only when there is secrecy.


 6 Replies


If they really mean business then the entire government should be in Tihar Jail.

DEBABRATA MALLICK (DCF&S)     15 October 2010

Dear Sh. Nikhil Dey,

Why are you so indifferent towards West Bengal?? The WBIC is in shambles and no initiative from any NGO or individual. Second stage appeals can take more than two years for disposal by the WBIC. No serial wise register is kept.. no docket number is given to appellants and appellants can hardly guess when his/her appeal is going to be taken up by WBIC. For that one has to file an application under RTI Act before the WBIC... What a sordid and shameful state of affairs.. The list of SPIO's are not updated for years.. Even if pointed out by somebody that such and such SPIO has retired an year ago.. they will be found simply dumb.

For more details and specific case reference with evidences, you may please see my blog;  Regards; Y/F....   dmallick.

Parthasarathi Loganathan (Advocate)     15 October 2010

But accountability for delay in furnishing information under RTI and the specific template or mandatory contents of a query can be standardised under the Act.  Registered login users can be enabled to file online query seeking information under RTI Act and the information be furnished then and there by the concerned PIO. This is technically feasible.

Democratic Indian (n/a)     15 October 2010

Information available by RTI is such information that can be openly made available. There also not even a need for login. All they have to do is put all the information that has been digitized, in appropriate publicly accessible directories of http servers. It will not only create transparency, but also the need of physically chase RTI applications, PIOs etc. will reduce to a great extent. There are plenty of high quality freely available secure open source operating systems, servers and related software available. But the main problem is the corrupt nexus/syndicate sitting in power does not want to do all this. Yahoo http servers are one of the heaviest loaded servers are running on freeBSD. There is no reason why our government cannot run such servers.

Instead our DRDO wants to be busy re-inventing the wheel by writing a "new operating system" that would supposedly secure from cyber attacks. One of the brilliant reason is its source code will be "secret". Excellent philsophy of "security by obscurity". Properly hardened open source Linux can be used by NASA, US DOD, top defence & intellignce establishments of various countries around the world, but we need to reinvent the wheel again spending probably hundreds of crores.


Lol! Re invent. There are no cyber attacks on Indian government sites. Its just a new phrase for "Foreign hand". Linux, Ubuntu[user friendly] cannot be reinvented by creeps.


Download UBUNTO from here


Its far better than Windows 7.

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