Home » Languages » English (Sr. Secondary) » Essay, Paragraph or Speech on “Importance of Right to Information” Complete Essay, Speech for Class 10, Class 12 and Graduation and other classes.

Essay, Paragraph or Speech on “Importance of Right to Information” Complete Essay, Speech for Class 10, Class 12 and Graduation and other classes.

Importance of Right to Information

Right to information means the freedom of people to have access to governmental information. It implies that the citizens and non-governmental organizations should enjoy a reasonably free access to all files and documents pertaining to the governmental operations, decisions and performance. In other words, it means openness and transparency in the functioning of government. Thus it is antithetical to secrecy in public administration.

Now a question arises whether secrecy—a component of executive privilege is good or transparency through right to information is good which is better for good governance. Both offer public interest as their rational which infact serves public interest and can they be harmonized.

USA has granted the right to information to its citizens by the freedom of Information Act (1966). Several other democratic states have also granted such a right to their citizens through similar legislations. Sweden is the only state which has conferred right to information through a direct constitutional provision. The right to information is necessary due to the following reasons :

(1) It makes administration more accountable to people.

(2) It reduces the gap between administration and people.

(3) It makes people aware of administrative decision making.

(4) It facilitates better delivery of goods and services to people by civil servants.

(5) It facilitates intelligent and constructive criticism of administration. (6) It increases peoples participation in government.

(7) It promotes public interest by discouraging arbitrariness in adminis-trative decision making.

(8) It reduces the scope for corruption in public administration.

(9) It upholds the democratic ideology by promoting openness and transparency in administration.

(10) It makes administration more responsible to the requirements of people.

(11) It reduces the chance of abuse of authority by the public servant.

The following statements made by administrative thinkers and practitioners highlight the importance of right to information.

Woodrow Wilson (former President of America, USA) remarked, “I believe that nothing should be hidden from public eyes. The people have every right to know everything about government actions. It is my conviction that openness will help in bringing good governance.Everyone knows corruption thrives in several places and does not take place in public places.” Thus he supported openness in governance.

James Madison says “People who elect the government must arm themselves with power which knowledge gives. A popular government without popular information or the means of acquiring it is but prologue to a farce or tragedy or perhaps both.

Lord Action says “Nothing is safe if it does not allow discussion and publicity.”

Max Weber, great socialist remarked, “Bureaucracy does not want to give information to the people about government action. And if parliament tries to give knowledge to the general public, bureaucracy tries to hinder it because it will disclose wrong-doings of bureaucracy.” He also stated “Bureaucracy naturally welcomes a poorly informed and hence a powerless parliament. Ignorance is in bureaucracy’s interest.”

Right to Information Bill passed by Parliament. The right to information Bill 2004 intended to secure people’s access to information under the control of public authorities was passed by the Lok Sabha on May 12, 2005. The Bill with its 1216 amendments was brought to make the freedom of Information Act 2002 more meaningful, to ensure greater and more effective access to information. In view of significant changes proposed in the existing act the Government also deciced to repeal the 2002 Act. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh stated that it would usher in the process of governance performance and efficiency. The Bill lays down the architecture for accessing information which is simple, easy, time bound and inexpensive. There will be strong penalties for failing to provide information or affecting its flow. In fact, it imposes obligations on agencies to disclose information suo moto thus reducing the cost of access.

 The Bill seeks to set up a central information commission. Other important changes proposed in the bill include establishment of appellate machinery with investigative power to review decisions of the public information officers. The Act also contains penal provisions for failure to provide information as per law and provisions to ensure maximum disclosure. Like the earlier law while information on intelligence and security organizations (such as the intelligence bureau Research and Analysis wing Border Security Force, Central Reserve Police Force, National Security Guards, Assam Rifles) will not come under the Act’s purview but information pertaining to violation of human rights allegations or corruption by these organizations will not be excluded. There will be an independent information commissioner to enforce the law. There will be harsher penalties for officials who do not comply with the law. The sweeping changes to the freedom of information act 2002 came after the NAC headed by Congress President Sonia Gandhi sent a list of 36 amendments to the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in August 2004.

Highlights of New Law

The Indian President will appoint a chief information commissioner and governors of states will appoint state information commissioners to implement the Act. They will be autonomous functionaries with five year term.

  • The chief information commissioner and state information commissioner will make public an annual report on the implementation of the law. The annual report will be tabled before parliament/state legislatures.
  • Instead of 25 years (as in the old act) information about events that took place upto 10 years before the date of request can be provided.
  • A stringent new section on penalties provides for varying penalties or fines (of up Rs. 3000) and even imprisonment (of upto five years) as punishment for malafide refusal to give information, destroying information or knowingly giving out wrong information to an RTI applicant.
  • Government bodies have to publish details of staff payment and budgets.

This was the long-felt need which was fulfilled by UPA Government. As we know “secrecy in government is fundamentally anti-democratic. It perpetuates bureaucratic errors. Open discussion based on full information and on public issues are essential to our national interest.

“The secrecy system is less for–safeguarding public or national interest and more for safeguarding government reputation and for burying its mistakes, maximizing its power, shielding its corrupt practies and manipulating the citizens.

The Constitution of India has no direct provision expressly conferring right to information to the citizens. However the Supreme Court has been stating since 1975 that the right to information is an intrinsic part of the right to freedom of speech and expression guaranteed under Article 19 (1) (a) of the constitution of India. In India various laws and rules restrict the disclosure of official information to the people and favours secrecy in administration.

The list of the laws hindering right to informations is given below:

(1) Official Secrets Act, 1923

(2) Indian Evidence Act, 1872

(3) Commission of Enquiry Act, 1952

(4) All India Service (Conduct) Rules, 1954

(5) Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules, 1955

(6) Railway Services (Conduct) Rules 1956. The Fifth pay commission (1994-1997) recommended for the abolition of the official secrets act and introduction of Right to Information Act and now it came into existence.


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