top of page
  • Writer's pictureRitik Agrawal

"TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY: A PILLAR OF GOOD GOVERNANCE - PUBLIC SERVANTS' DUTY TO INFORM"

Updated: Jan 16

Author: Anjali Nain,

UPES, Dehradun


ABSTRACT

No government can function without accountability, transparency, the right to free expression, and a slew of other democratic ideals. The importance of these factors is even more obvious in a country like India, where there are so many different cultural traditions. The enactment of the Access to Information Act in 2005 was a significant step toward the realization of these objectives. The preamble of the Act states, Democracy requires an informed public and information openness, which are essential to its functioning, as well as to combat corruption and hold governments and their agents accountable to the governed. Its operation is dependent on the transparency of the information. Representatives should serve the people rather than be in charge of them. In addition to improving transparency and accountability in government, the Right to Information Act discourages arbitrary public policies, actions, and decisions. There is no doubt that laws governing access to information improve governance. The Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha passed the Right to Information Bill, 2005 on May 11 and 12, respectively. The main goal or purpose of this essay is to discuss the importance of the Right to Information Act (RTI) in relation to good governance. The main focus of this paper is on the barriers or impediments that prevent the act from working effectively, as well as the recommendations that can be made to address these issues.


INTRODUCTION

"Democracy is the form of government established by, of, and for the people," according to the definition. This expression is appropriate for the message as long as access to information about their agents' actions before and after their use is permitted. This includes the freedom to participate in open debates and seek information from public experts. Good governance and the right to information are inextricably linked. The right to information is the means of achieving good governance goals. The right to information either encourages or makes it easier to implement the principles of good governance—transparency, accountability, and responsiveness. People have the right to know how their tax dollars are being spent because it is widely assumed that the goal of representative forms of government is to promote the welfare of the people, and they pay taxes to do so. This right gives the holder access to information as well as the ability to sue (for example, by filing a PIL) and seek redress in a court of law. In a country like India, where defilement and criminalization are the backbones of the government and the source of this debasement is a long-standing mystery, RTI plays a critical role in advancing excellent administration. Because the secrecy they have maintained for so long is what causes corruption, the RTI Act was a modest step toward reducing corruption. In this information age, the free exchange of ideas and information is a critical factor in determining people's growth and well-being. We are currently living in this epoch. The RTI Act represents a significant step forward in our efforts to create a society that is both enlightened and prosperous. As a direct consequence of this, only a select few individuals should be allowed to make use of their right to information. It is generally accepted that individuals will possess a greater degree of power when they are able to acquire information and the knowledge necessary to make effective use of that information in order to assert their political, economic, and legal rights.[i] As a result, they can develop their strengths and assets, ultimately improving their quality of life. In the end, this should be the sole goal of good governance. Given the significance of the Right to Information Act, the Prime Minister claimed that “Digital India”, a component of the government's good governance initiative, was a useful addition to it. He contended that making information available to the public online improves credibility and transparency. "RTI has evolved into a useful tool for good governance," he continues. Rather than simply protecting citizens' rights, the Right to Information Act should give everyone the freedom to speak out against injustice and challenge authority.[ii]


NEXUS BETWEEN RTI AND GOOD GOVERNANCE IN ADMINISTRATION

Open government, as the new democratic culture of an open society, should be practiced by more than just liberal democracies like ours. The right to information is critical in a socialist country like India, where the vast majority of the population lacks both education and literacy. When we think of good governance, some of the most fundamental concepts that come to mind are transparency, accountability, public participation, and informed citizens. All of these components are required for any good governance system. The RTI Act is a good governance tool in and of itself because its goals and purposes are to achieve these objectives. Some of the Act's goals are as follows: Discrimination in addition Without a doubt, the rights granted by the Act's various sections give public authorities more leeway in their work. According to subsection (j) of Section 2 of the Act, a citizen has the following rights:[iii]

  • Examination of the work, the documentation, and the records

  • Taking notes, extracts, or certified copies of the documents or records

  • Taking certified samples of material and obtaining information in electronic form, if it is accessible

  • Taking certified samples of material

  • Taking notes, extracts, or certified copies of the documents or records.

A public authority is required by section 4(1)(d) of the Act to explain the administrative or quasi-judicial decision it made to those who were affected. In accordance with Section 20, the commission may penalize or recommend additional disciplinary actions against information providers who are found to be impeding the free flow of information (1). In other words, the authors of this Act wanted to ensure that the public's access to information is unrestricted. As a result, citizens are better informed about their elected representatives' accomplishments and contributions, which is beneficial to democratic project governance and democracy in general. One of the most important aspects of the Act is that a person seeking information is not required to provide a reason or much personal information. As a result, more requests for information (RTIs) are filed, increasing transparency. However, there are several well-known drawbacks to this quality. Although some people take advantage of this honor, their number is much smaller than the total number of people who benefit from it. a higher level of accountability One of RTI's most significant advantages is its ability to hold government organizations accountable to the public. This encourages citizens to participate in the democratic process. The Act's section 4(1)(d) requirement that every public authority explain its administrative and quasi-judicial decisions to those who are affected significantly reduces the likelihood that these decisions are arbitrary. Some of the most well-known and widely accepted long-term indicators of good governance are as follows:

  • Voice and accountability;

  • Political calm and absence of violence;

  • Efficiency and effectiveness of government;

  • High regulatory standards;

  • The primacy of the rule of law.

  • Regulation of the corrupt system.

Rule of Law: To achieve good governance, it is sufficient to apply legal frameworks in a fair and impartial manner. A just, stable, and predictable legal system is required for people and businesses to assess potential business opportunities and act on them without fear of their actions being arbitrarily interfered with or their property being seized. As a result, the rules must be understood in advance, followed, and applied consistently and fairly. Furthermore, it advocates for the creation of open protocols for rule amendment or repeal, as well as the use of a neutral judicial system to resolve any potential conflicts.[iv]

Participation: Society must be involved in the development of policies, laws, strategies, and so on for effective governance. Given that each of these policies, depending on the circumstances, may affect the society as a whole or a specific segment of it, public participation is critical in determining the direction of governance. Even if a program or policy only has secondary effects on a small portion of society, a consultation process should be in place to ensure that their perspective is taken into account. In the absence of these elements, poor governance is almost certain. If these elements are not implemented, power abuse, corruption, and administrative apathy will occur.


CHALLENGES IN WAY OF RTI

  • Low Level of Awareness: In accordance with Section 26 of the Act, the appropriate government may develop and implement educational programs to raise public awareness of the rights envisioned by the Act, particularly among underprivileged communities. These initiatives aim to educate the public on how to exercise their constitutionally guaranteed right. Surveys, on the other hand, show that nearly 20% of respondents were aware of the RTI Act. The primary sources of this consciousness were newspapers, television, and other forms of mass media, as well as referrals. Other disadvantaged groups, such as women, rural dwellers, SC, ST, and OBC people, have even lower levels of awareness.

  • Inconvenient submission channels for RTI application: As stated in the opening sentence of Section 6(1) of the Act, a person may submit a request in writing or via electronic means in English or Hindi or in the official language of the area where the application is being submitted. This provision applies regardless of the location of the application. This linguistic requirement must be met regardless of the destination of the application. On the other hand, insufficient efforts have been made to receive RTI petitions via electronic ways, such as email or websites, as Section 26 allows the relevant government to do. This clause enables the applicable government to accept RTI applications.[v]

  • Favouritism: It is common practice to appoint retired bureaucrats to positions of responsibility at the highest level of the Right to Information Act (RTI), which is the information commission at both the central and state levels. The government does not have any influence or control over these commissions. The activists' point of view is that these officials frequently demonstrate a sympathetic attitude toward their fellow bureaucrats.

SUGGESTIONS OR RECOMMENDATIONS FOR PROPER IMPLEMENTATION OF RTI ACT TO IMPROVE ADMINISTRATION

  • As previously stated, the most significant barrier to the Act's implementation is a general lack of awareness, "publicity" of the Act has become critical. The government should promote the RTI Act with funds provided by the CIC. Furthermore, this monetary allocation must be adequate.

  • NGOs and civil society members should work with the government to launch awareness campaigns to educate rural residents about the Act. Women, farmers, middle-class and working-class people should be prioritized.

  • This is because the exploitation of public authorities has the greatest negative impact on these demographic groups.[vi]

  • Our judicial community must reconsider its conventional approach to dealing with this progressive piece of law that aspires to guarantee transparency and accountability in the conduct of all authorities. In an effort to improve transparency and accountability in the actions of all authorities, this law was enacted. This decision will send a striking message to those who consistently bemoan and criticize the institution for its reputation as an effective institution.

  • As the Right to Information (RTI) Act of 2005 has been in existence for the past decade, our judicial system should review its implementation.

  • The Right to Information Act should be taught in schools so that students, who are viewed as the future leaders of the country, would be inspired to study more about it in the future. Because kids are viewed as the country's future leaders, the Right to Information Act should be taught in schools. This is a crucial step in ensuring that the Act continues to be successful.

  • The protest should be observed and conducted by various departmental experts in each region, as well as public authorities in charge of local organization, such as local gatherers and representatives. In addition, public officials should conduct the demonstration.

  • Political influence has the potential to reduce public authorities' effectiveness; as a result, in order to maintain their integrity, these authorities must disregard any vested interests.[vii]

CONCLUSION

It is reasonable to assert that the RTI represents a significant improvement in the overall functioning of a democracy such as India. It is a powerful tool with the potential to significantly advance society. It may allow people to actively participate in democratic processes and hold elected officials accountable for their actions, thereby strengthening democratic institutions and encouraging good governance. A few issues, however, are impeding the Act's effective implementation. On the other hand, if the necessary steps are taken, the RTI has the potential to aid in the achievement of good governance goals such as increased participation, transparency, and accountability. The RTI Act is currently in a critical phase, but there is still much work to be done to ensure that it continues to evolve.


REFERENCES [i] Shilpa. (2013). “Right to Information Act: A tool to Strength Good Governance and Tackling Corruption”. International journal of Humanities and Social Science invention: p.46. [ii] Banerjee, R. (2012).Right to Information and Good Governance. Arise publishers: New Delhi.p.1. [iii] Borah, S. K. (2013). “Right to Information Act: A Key to Good Governance”. International Journal of Humanities and Social Science: VOL -2, Issue- 2 p.11. [iv] Shilpa. (2013). “Right to Information Act: A tool to Strength Good Governance and Tackling Corruption”. International journal of Humanities and Social Science invention: p.46. [v] Chaubey, M. K. “Right to information Various Dimensions”. Regal Publications: New Delhi. p.24. [vi] Kumar M. Public Administration, “New Challenges”, Regal publications. New Delhi: p.122. [vii] Nirmala. (2012). “Right to Information and NGO’s- A Study”. Indian journal of Social science & interdisciplinary Research: Vol-1. Issue.12.

20 views0 comments

Comments


bottom of page