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Asha Kanta Sharma

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Right to Information and Good Governance

ashakantasharma

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International Journal of Humanities and Social Science Invention
ISSN (Online): 2319 – 7722, ISSN (Print): 2319 – 7714
www.ijhssi.org Volume 2 Issue 2 ǁ March. 2013ǁ PP.11-22
 

Right to Information and Good Governance
The right to information act is a path making legislation which brings to light the secrecy of administration. It is an effective means to promote democratic ideology. The act is powerful instrument to fight against corruption. By realizing this significance the Second Administrative Reform Commission had prepared a detailed blueprint for revamping the public administrative system. The second Administrative Reform Commission, government of India has published its first report in ―Right to Information: Master key to good governance.‖ Through this report the commission directly mentioned that access to information can empower
the poor and weaker sections of society to demand and government information about public policies and actions, thereby led to welfare of all.

Good governance and right to information are complimentary to each other. A nation whatever form of government it pursues must fulfill the aspirations of common man. Good governance is the only avenue, which can provide guaranty the life of individuals. Good governance is characterized by- political accountability, availability of freedom, bureaucratic accountability, availability of information, effectiveness, efficiency, law abiding citizen and cooperation between government and society. As such the Right to information is a natural corollary of good governance. The enactment of RTI act 2005 introduces an open and transparent government and gives every citizen right to seek and receive information to make administration more responsible and transparent which means good governance. So, World Bank once rightly remarked, ―Right to information is an integral part of good governance.‖

V.K Agnihotri and B.V.R Subrahmanyam opined that Right to Information is a part and partial of success for good governance. They said the minimum expectations of citizens from the governance are-
- Timely prompt service.
- Minimum Red Tape.
- Minimum waiting time.
- Minimum visit to multiple officers.
- Minimization of Arbitrariness.
- Prompt information in delays, waiting times etc, and
- Prompt information on status of application.

In the following paragraph, this paper tries to examine the right to information and transparency of administration as an effective tool of good governance.

(1) Participation

Participation of both men and women is the cornerstone of good governance. Representative democracy does not mean the rule of chosen few; it must take into interest of all sections specially the most vulnerable sections in the society. The Right to information acts gives people a chance to participate not just one in five years, but every day and question any decisions. The right to Information act gives an opportunity to the common men to participate in governance and reduce the imbalance in power relationship, provides a tool to oppose injustice and allows collective spirit to make democracy work for everyone. Right to information act also strengthen grassroots democracy and ensures peoples participation in local governance and development activities.

(2) Accessibility

Right to Information makes it possible to easy access of information from government departments, documents, records, services, finances and policies to all sectors of community. The Right to Information act by providing easy access of information reduces the traditional long gape between citizens and administration and thus helps in nation building process. The right to know and easy access of government information helps the people to understand the limitations of government at different levels. The availability of information also helps to foster in development process and it is a symptom of true and mature democracy.

(3) Transparency

Transparency is the milestone of good governance. Transparency means that decisions taken and their enforcement are done in a manner that follows rules and regulations. It also means that information is freely available and directly accessible to those who will be affected by such decisions and their enforcement. Transparency and accountability is possible only when the public have access to information. The enactment of Right to Information act 2005, people are now able to seek information from any government department with a definite time frame. The Right to Information act is intended to promote accountability and transparency in government by making the process of government decision making more open. Though some departments of the
Union government are exempted from this act but the information can be sought if it is concerned with violation of human rights. Even the information from the private authority can be sought only through the controlling authority and controlling authority will send the notice to the institution concerned under section 11 of the act. In addition to this, the citizens are taxpayers, so they have every right to ask the government.

(4) Accountability

Accountability is another requirement of good governance. Not only the government, the private sector institutions should also accountable to the people. Information is power and Right to Information act brings accountability and transparency in the administration. The Right to Information act provides people with mechanism to access information, which they can use to hold the government accountable or to seek explanation as to why decisions have been taken, by whom and with what consequences or outcomes. However, accountability can not be achieved without transparency and rule of law.

(5) Empowerment

Before enactment of Right to Information Act, participation in political and economic processes and the ability to make informed choices has been restricted to India. As a consequence, commoners remain ignorant of various schemes and are unable to resist when their rights become causality. At the same time, people remain ignorant in terms of the ways and means through they can obtain their entitled rights from the concerned departments legally. Now with enactment of Right to Information act people can participate in decision making process and it enables the citizens to know about the government decisions. The Right to Information act empowering people by removing unnecessary secrecy surrounding in decision making process of the government.

(6) Equity and inclusiveness

Equity is another prominent feature of good governance. It implies everybody is a part of the governance and they do not feel excluded from the mainstream of society. The Right to Information act also does not make any discrimination between rich and poor and it covers all the citizens in India. It always comes forward to fight against inequality, injustice and inhuman activity.

(7) Effectiveness and Efficiency

The Seventh feature of good governance is efficiency and effectiveness. The concept of efficiency in good governance covers doing work at first speed and effectiveness means doing things effectively with result oriented. In this connection Right to Information act will bring more effective and efficient record management techniques that are needed to facilitate the provision of information in response to public interest. Under RTI provision 4 (1) it is clearly mentions, ―It is the obligatory of public authority to maintain all its records duly catalogued and indexed.‖ Under section 4(b) ―every public authority is requested to publish within 120 days from the enactment of the act as many as 17 manuals.



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