Right To Information Act: A Tool For Good Governance
Dr. Ramesh Kumar, Associate Professor, JIMS Engineering Management Technical Campus, School of Law, Greater Noida
Information is the tool through which we acquire knowledge and add something new to our awareness, thought and remove the vagueness existing in our ideas. Power is derived from knowledge and information is the basic component of knowledge. The free flow of information is a must for a democratic society as it helps the society to grow and to retain a continuous debate and discussion among the people. No democratic government can survive without accountability and the basic postulate of accountability is that the people should have information about the functioning of the government. It brings openness in the administration which helps to promote transparency in state affairs, keep government more accountable and ultimately reduce corruption. Disclosure of information in regard to the functioning of the government must be the rule and secrecy an exception. Right to information is integral part of the freedom of speech and expression enshrined in Article 19(1) (a) of the Constitution. The Right to Information Act, 2005 was passed for making the government transparent and more accountable.
In international arena, Right to information has been warmly welcomed and incorporated in various international human rights documents.
Good governance is a term that is often used to describe the desired objective of a nation-state’s political development. The principles of good governance, however, are not new. Good governance in short is described as anti-corruption, whereas authority and its institutions are accountable, effective and efficient, participatory, transparent, responsive, and equitable. These are the major characteristics of good governance as outlined by the United Nations.
Good Governance constitutes the cornerstone of every democracy. It includes wide range of issues like economic, political, administrative and judicial as well. There is a close link between right to information and good governance. Good governance is characterized by transparency, accountability and responsiveness. Consequently, the citizen‘s right to information is increasingly being recognized as an important mechanism to promote openness, transparency and accountability in government administration.
Participation of both men and women is the cornerstone of good governance. The Right to information Acts gives peoples a chance to participate not just once in five years, but every day and question any decision. The right to Information Act gives an opportunity to the common men to participate in governance and reduce the imbalance in power relationship, provides a tool to oppose injustice and allows collective spirit to make democracy work for everyone. Right to information Act also strengthen grassroots democracy and ensures peoples participation in local governance and development activities. Right to Information makes it possible to easy access of information from government departments, documents, records, services, finances and policies to all sectors of community. The right to know and easy access of government information helps the people to understand the limitations of government at different levels. The availability of information also helps to foster in development process and it is a symptom of true and mature democracy. Transparency is the milestone of good governance. Transparency means that decisions taken and their enforcement are done in a manner that follows rules and regulations. It also means that information is freely available and directly accessible to those who will be affected by such decisions and their enforcement. Transparency and accountability is possible only when the public have access to information. Though some departments of the Union government are exempted from this Act but the information can be sought if it is concerned with violation of human rights. Even the information from the private authority can be sought through the controlling authority and controlling authority will send the notice to the institution concerned under the Act. The Right to Information Act provides people with mechanism to access information, which they can use to hold the government accountable or to seek explanation as to why decisions have been taken, by whom and with what consequences or outcomes. The Right to Information Act empowers people by removing unnecessary secrecy surrounding in decision making process of the government.
It is considered one of the most powerful laws. It works as oxygen for the strengthening of democracy and promotion of transparency. These laws promote transparency, democracy, accountability and reduce corruption. It empowers the common masses and instrumentalities in good governance. The secret of progress and development in every sphere of life lies in access to information to public by public authorities. Good governance and right to information are complimentary to each other. A nation whatever form of government it pursues must fulfill the aspirations of common man. Good governance is the only avenue, which can provide guaranty of dignified life of individuals The Right to Information Act by providing easy access of information is trying its best to reduce the established long gap between citizens and administration and helping in nation building process.