The Right to Information is the only weapon of the people in democracy to know how their government is working. They have elected the government to power. That is why they have every right to know about its ins and outs. RTI came into existence six years ago and is counted among one of the achievements of Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh -led UPA Government.
It is because of RTI that galore of scandals has come to light and the government has been exposed before the country and its corrupt practices have make the people wary of it. RTI has empowered the people, which is essence of the democracy. It has already been in existence in several other democratic countries. Any attempt to tinker with it means the demoralization of the people.
The talk of diluting the RTI was first began by Union Corporate minister Verappa Moily and then by law minister Salman Khurshid. Their intention clearly reflected that because of the dishonesty and inefficiency of the government, they are facing embarrassment due to RTI. Now, the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh has stated that there is a need for relook at the ‘grey areas’ of RTI, though the civil society is already wary of government’s dubious intention. PM has stated that only the matter of public interest should be accessible to public under RTI. In its present area and provision, it burdening the government’s functioning, hampering the economic growth of the nation. He advocates that deliberation of the government should also not be accessible to the public under RTI. People’s right to empowerment must not be encroached upon.
The civil society and the general public have rightly said that any amendment to RTI must be backed by credible evidence. As far as matter of public interest is concerned, who will be the legitimate authority to decide it? Whether it will be the government or the people. It is correct to say that the matter of foreign, strategic and security affairs has nothing to do with the people’s day-to-day interest and may have adverse impact if it is placed under public domain but to escape embarrassment due to dishonesty and inefficiency, it is nothing but excuse of the government to put the matter of public interest at par with it. It only exposes its dubious intention. The Government has no right to decide which is of public interest of which is not.
In democracy, the people are sovereign and they have every right to know how their money is spent by the government. Any attempt to dilute the RTI by Manmohan Singh Government will prove to be suicidal for it. The Government has already got credit for RTI. Congress President and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi had played a pivotal role in the enactment of RTI. She needs to step in immediately to warn the government to not try amending RTI for escaping embarrassment. The people are finally the masters in democracy. They can not be deprived of knowledge about the plans and projects of their government.
The government’s view that honest and efficient bureaucrats do not give expression to their voice for good governance is nothing but farce. That whatever note they give would go in public domain and then different interpretation would be made of it. It is nothing but to conceal the fact from the people.
The honest and upright bureaucrats need hesitate and fear in giving expression to their voice if it is in people’s interest. The government’s explanation is completely baffling and anti-people. It is the political executives who do not like to be given perfect perception of bureaucrats in public interests. Because they always want to have an escape route. If the honest and upright bureaucrats give expression to their voice in people’s interest, it would be very difficult for the ministers to turn it down because of RTI Act. That is why the government wants to relook at RTI. Honest and upright offers would always support RTI because that too has emboldened them.
Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh immediately needs to relook at the functioning of his government rather than RTI, which goads it to be more sincere, transparent and honest. Reviewing of the functioning of his government is the most necessary in view of the Supreme Court’s observation that no action was taken on the PM’s letter to the then telecom minister that resulted in the 2G Scam. So, PM must retrieve his own authority and not to dilute the RTI.