Analysing the Right to Information Act in India
Democracy requires an informed citizenry and transparency of information which are vital to its functioning
and also to contain corruption and to hold governments and their instrumentalities accountable to the
governed, says the preamble of the Indian Right to Information (RTI) Act.
The act provides effective access to information for citizens of India, which is under the control
of the public authorities. It promotes transparency and accountability in the working of every public
authority.The Right to Information Bill, 2005 was passed by the Lok Sabha on May 11, 2005 and by the
Rajya Sabha on ...view middle of the document...
The Swedish example was
later followed by the US, which enacted its first law in
1966 and then by Norway in 1970. The interest in
Freedom of Information (FOI) laws took a leap forward
when the US, reeling from the 1974 Watergate scandal3 ,
passed a strong FOI law in 1976, followed by several
western democracies enacting their own laws (France
and Netherlands 1978, Australia, New Zealand and
Canada 1982, Denmark 1985, Greece 1986,Austria 1987,
Italy 1990). By 1990, the number of countries with FOI
laws climbed to 13. A big step forward was the EU
Charter of Fundamental Rights in 2000, which included
both freedom of expression and the right of access to
When people have ATI they naturally tend to make more
meaningful decisions, raise informed opinions, influence
policies affecting their society and even help shape a
more assured future for the next generation. RTI has
been recognised in Sweden 1 for over 200 years.
Importantly, however, over the last ten years it has gained
widespread recognition in all regions of the world.While
related legislations were adopted only by 13 countries
in 1990, this number has now grown to 852 and more,
and similar such pieces of legislations are under active
consideration in many other countries.
In India, RTI Act was introduced in 2005 and since then
this law has proved to be a strong weapon in the hands
of people, for ensuring transparency in government
departments and containing corruption.
By 2010, more than 85 countries have national-level RTI
laws or regulations in force including the major
developing countries like China and India. Of all these,
Mexico has taken the lead with one of the best examples
of a well-functioning FOIA in the world.The law passed
in 2002 represents a vital element of Mexicos
democratic transition, and became a model worldwide.
A well competent governmental body (Instituto Federal
de Acceso a la Información) is entrusted with the
responsibility of implementation and overseeing the law.
Handling over 200,000 requests in its first five years,
have resulted in Mexico setting a new international
standard for transparency legislation.
Box 1: World Banks New Access to
The World Bank implemented the first phase of its new
policy on Access to Information on July 01, 2010, to
increase its effectiveness, efficiency, and accountability.
This new policy draws on Indias RTI law and the US FOI
Law, and positions the Bank as a transparency leader
among multilateral organisations.
New information that will be available includes decisions
of project concept review meetings, project supervision
missions, and mid-term project reviews. It also includes
a provision that will allow for the declassification of
certain types of restricted information over time after
5, 10, or 20 years recognising that sensitivity of the
information declines over time. It also introduces the
right to appeal.