Citizens have right to invoke RTI Act for fighting graft: SC

"The right to information is a cherished right. Information and right to information are intended to be formidable tools in the hands of responsible citizens to fight corruption and to bring in transparency and accountability.

"The provisions of RTI Act should be enforced strictly and all efforts should be made to bring to light the necessary information under clause(b)of section 4(1) of the Act which relates to securing transparency and accountability in the working of public authorities and in discouraging corruption," the apex court said.

A bench of justices R V Raveendran and A K Patnaik made the remarks while dismissing the Central Board of Secondary Education's (CBSE) plea that students have no right to examine their evaluated answer scripts.

The apex court however, said that the Act should not be misused for extracting impractical information in an indiscriminate manner.

"Indiscriminate and impractical demands or directions under RTI Act for disclosure of all and sundry information (unrelated to transparency and accountability in the functioning of public authorities and eradication of corruption) would be counter-productive as it will adversely affect the efficiency of the administration and result in the executive getting bogged down with the non-productive work of collecting and furnishing information.

"The Act should not be allowed to be misused or abused, to become a tool to obstruct the national development and integration or to destroy the peace, tranquillity and harmony among its citizens. Nor should it be converted into a tool of oppression or intimidation of honest officials striving to do their duty," Justice Raveendran, writing the judgement, said.

The apex court said the nation should not have a scenario where 75 percent of the staff of public authorities spends 75 per cent of their time in collecting and furnishing information to applicants instead of discharging their regular duties.

"The threat of penalties under the RTI Act and the pressure on the authorities under the RTI Act should not lead to employees of a public authorities prioritising ‘information furnishing’ at the cost of their normal and regular duties," the bench said.

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