Prez advises caution on using RTI

Patil, inaugurating the Fourth Annual Convention on Right to Information  here, said the whole of India had become the “Parliament of the People” thanks to the Right to Information  Act, as now every citizen can ask questions relating to various issues, a privilege earlier reserved only for members of legislatures.

The President stressed the role the Act has played in making the nation a participatory democracy, and said: “Rights given under this Act to our citizens are extensive and, therefore, it is important that there be a deep sense of responsibility while exercising them.
“There is a fine balance which needs to be maintained between applications under the Right to Information  Act to public authorities and also ensuring that public authorities are not flooded with applications some of them of frivolous nature, which could overwhelm their ability to respond in time,” she said.

Therefore, she said, there is a need for a sense of responsibility for more openness on the part of public authorities as also within civil society to ensure that applications which reached authorities are those that genuinely needed immediate attention.

The civil society, she said, could play an important role in creating awareness about the importance and spirit of the Act, so that the people and their elected governments could collectively build the future of the country responsibly and constructively.

Major challenge
A major challenge before the government is to ensure that the funds for numerous social and economic schemes had effective delivery mechanisms, and the “RTI route” can be instrumental in bringing about improvements in this, she said. Patil said the best practices adopted by various states in response to the Right to Information  Act should be codified and practised.

“Information is no longer the preserve of a few and there is now greater emphasis on transparency of work and accountability,” President  Patil declared in her speech.

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