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

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

Right to Information

Essay No. 1

Article 19(1) (a) of the Constitution guarantees the fundamental rights to freedom of speech and expression. The pre-requisite for enjoying this right is knowledge and information. The absence of authentic information on matters of public interest only encourages wild rumors and speculations, avoidable allegations against individuals and institutions. Therefore, the Right to Information becomes a constitutional right, being an aspect of the right to freedom of speech and expression, which includes the right to receive and collect information. This helps the citizens perform their fundamental duties as set out in Article 51A of the Constitution because a fully informed citizen could certainly be better equipped for the performance of these duties. Thus, access to information assist citizens in fulfilling these obligations. Right to Information Act came into force on the 12th of October 2005. The Act provides for setting out the practical regime of right to information for citizens to secure access to information under the control of public authorities, in order to promote transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority, the constitution of a Central Information Commission – and State Information Commissions and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. Right to information includes the right to

  • Inspect works, documents, and records.
  • Take notes, extracts, or certified copies of documents or records
  • Take certified samples of material.
  • Obtain information in form of printouts, diskettes, floppies, tapes and videocassettes or in any other electronic mode.

As no right can be absolute, the Right to Information also has its limitations therefore, only that part of the record that does not contain any information which is exempt from disclosure and which can reasonably be severed from any part that contains exempt information, can be provided.


Right to Information

Essay No. 2

The right to information is an effective tool to control corruption, make governments accountable and curb arbitrary use of power. A movement for securing for the people the right to information is necessary to make democracy more meaningful. The Right to Information is derived from our fundamental right of expression under Article 19. If we do not have information on how our Government and public institutions function, we cannot express any informed opinion on it. This has been accepted by various Supreme Court judgments, since 1977.

Democracy revolves round the basic idea of citizens being at the center of governance — rule of the people. We need to define the importance of the concept of freedom of the press from this fundamental premise. It is obvious that the main reason for a free press is to ensure that citizens are informed. If this is one of the main reasons for the primacy given to the freedom of the press, it clearly flows from this that the citizens’ right to know is paramount. Also, since the government is run on behalf of the people, they are the owners who have a right to be informed directly.

In a government of responsibility like ours, where all the agents of the public must be responsible for their conduct, there can be but few secrets. The people of this country have a right to know every public act, everything that is done in a public way by their public functionaries. They are entitled to know the particulars of every public transaction in all its bearing. Their right to know, which is derived from the concept of freedom of speech, though not absolute, is a factor, which should make one wary when secrecy is claimed for transactions, which can, at any rate, have no repercussion on public security.

Right To Information Act promises to be a single piece of legislation that can result in the victory of participatory democracy. The Right To Information Act is a codification of important rights of citizens. The right has existed since the time India became a republic but was difficult to enforce without going to court. The Act and its rules define a format for requisitioning information, a time period within which information must be provided (30 days), the method of giving the information, some charges for applying, and some exemptions. The principle is that charges should be minimum — more as a token. They are not at all representative of the costs that may be incurred. Citizens can ask for information by getting Xerox copies of documents, permissions, policies, and decisions. Inspection of files can also be done and samples can be asked for. All administrative offices of public authorities have to appoint ‘Public Information Officers (PIO): Citizens can apply for information to the PIO of the office concerned. If it is not provided or is refused, the citizen can go to an Appellate Authority who would be an official in the same department, senior to the PIO. If this too does not produce a satisfactory result, one can appeal to the State or Central Information Commissioner, an independent Constitutional Authority being established under the Act. Thus, when exercised in a rightful manner, the Right To Information can become a tool for realizing democracy.

The Right to Information provides, for a time-bound and defined process for citizens to access information about all actions taken by public authorities. The penal provisions are the real teeth of the Act, which ensure that the PIO does not treat citizens’ demands for information in a cavalier manner. The primary power of RTI is the fact it empowers individual citizens to requisition information. Hence without necessarily forming pressure groups or associations, it puts power directly into the hands of the foundation of democracy — the citizens. There will certainly be an attempt to subvert this revolutionary right by the ruling coterie since it strikes at the basics of their power. This can easily be countered if enough citizens use the Act. Citizens can use them right from their own houses — and usually, it does not take more than about two hours to make an RTI application.

A few million applications across the country by concerned citizens on issues that interest them will bring a major change in India and be a determined move towards the Swaraj we desire. There is a great need to spread the usage of this countrywide, so that transparency and good governance triumph. We now have the power; we only need to use it. It is simple to use, and the benefits are immense.

Recent Controversy

The public outrage over the recent attempts of the government to tamper with the national Right to Information (RTI) Act (on the issue of file noting etc.) may have subsided for the moment but the storm has left some indelible marks on the history of Indian democracy. In a never-before alignment that rose above caste, class, gender, economic, political, professional and what-have-you considerations, the government’s move paved the way for a neat two-way split centred around one guiding principle: do we want to progress towards a clean and true democracy or not?

The proposed amendments have evoked mass indignation not only because the government was attempting to water down the RTI Act, but it was doing so while maintaining that it was making it more progressive, in addition to acting without any public consultation whatsoever. In fact, well into the Parliament session, no one, not even Members of Parliament, had even seen the official text of the Amendments Bill.

The language of the amendments leaves little room for doubt that the December 2005 attempt to exempt file notings (with some minor exceptions) has worked its way back into the proposed amendments to the Act. Furthermore, the new Sub-section 8(m) reads almost identical to Section 8 (e) of the old Freedom of Information Act, which the government had pledged to improve upon. Worse, it now lengthens the list of exemptions by excluding “information pertaining to any process of any examination conducted by any public authority or assessment or evaluation made by it for judging the suitability of any person to appointment or promotions.” In every sense, these amendments violate the fundamental principle of minimum exclusion that would make for a progressive Act.

Areas of Concern

There has been a lot of concern areas regarding the Right to Information Bill, as originally passed. The Bill contains a few provisions that have diluted its effectiveness. The provision in the original draft that criminal liability, with punishment by imprisonment, would extend to those who furnished false information or those who destroyed it has been deleted. Another important change relates to the selection of the Information Commissioner and his or her deputies. The draft Bill envisaged their selection by a team comprising the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, and the Chief Justice of India (CJI). However, the Bill as passed by the two Houses has amended the draft to replace the CJI with “a Union Cabinet Minister to be nominated by the PM,” thus making the selection process somewhat more partisan. These and some other flaws in the Bill should not detract from the fact that it is a substantial improvement over the Freedom of Information Act and other ‘freedom of information laws’ passed by various States from 1997 onwards. While the right to know is not explicitly spelled out in the Constitution, the Supreme Court has held in several cases that this right is inherent in the right to freedom of speech and expression (Article 19) as well as the right to life and liberty (Article 21). The effectiveness of the Right to Information Act will depend substantially on how prepared the Central and State Governments are in implementing it — in both letter and spirit.

Experiences of common citizens using the RTI Act since it was passed point to extensive ground-level problems in the implementation of the Act. But neither the government nor the media seem inclined to pay attention to these seemingly mundane problems, which could prove debilitating in the long run. Nearly a year since the Act came into effect, the status of suo motu disclosures by public authorities across the country is woefully unclear. The procedure for accepting application forms and fees is yet to be streamlined, even in large public offices such as Collectorates. Although in theory, the Act provides for redress through a two-step appeal procedure, the working of State Information Commissions—the second and final public authority at the State government level—in many States puts the entire Act’s credibility under a cloud.

While public pressure is easier to mobilize against blatant attempts to hold democracy hostage, such as the latest amendments, it is in the apparently insignificant details that the government could succeed in breaking down the patience of common citizens who are putting their new-found tool to test. This is a danger that RTI activists, the media and the public should anticipate and guard against.


Positive Side of the Picture

The Freedom of Information Bill aims to empower every citizen with the right to obtain information from the government. The change from the repressive regime of the Official Secrets Act to the notion of freedom of information as a citizen’s right has taken 77 years, but it marks a significant paradigm shift for Indian democracy. The right to information has both intrinsic and instrumental value. Its intrinsic value comes from the fact that citizens have a right to know. It is a crucial step towards a deeper, more meaningful democracy. More tangibly, in a country like India, it can promote action for development and therefore has considerable instrumental value.

The information enables people to make enlightened choices, and keep tabs on elected representatives and officials who claim to act on their collective behalf. Thus, accountability and transparency are both enhanced radically. In the last few decades, freedom of information has been recognized as an internationally protected human right, and societies across the world have been moving away from opaque and secretive administrative systems to open and transparent systems. However, I have a doubt in my mind about the revelation of complete information on the point by the government. As the Bill reinforces the controlling role of the government official, who retains a wide discretion to withhold information. For example, requests for information that involve “disproportionate diversion of the resources of a public authority” can be shot down by the public information officer. From the gatekeepers of the Official Secrets Act, they now become gatekeepers of the Freedom of Information Bill. However, despite its shortcomings, the new law could be the tentative beginning of a more inclusive development process — what Amartya Sen describes as “a momentous engagement with the possibilities of freedom”.


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