Monday, July 09, 2018

RTI can be used more effectively: Acharyulu

The Hindu: Chennai: Monday, July 09, 2018.
Panel official rues lack of awareness
Strongly advocating the need for political parties to willingly come under the Right to Information (RTI) Act 2005, Sridhar Acharyulu, Information Commissioner, Central Information Commission said parties in power must be answerable to the people.
“On the use of the RTI Act in our country, a lot to be done as the Act can be used much more effectively by the people,” he said.
Mr. Acharyulu was addressing a workshop organised by RTI warriors from the All India Professionals Congress (AIPC) and Belson and Belson Advocates. Highlighting the features of the RTI Act 2005, he said it was the Congress government that introduced the Act, but it was the Bharatiya Janata Party that had used it effectively.
“Information procured through the RTI Act exposed scandals across various levels in the functioning of the State before the elections,” he said.
He initially spoke about the lack of knowledge among people about knowing and being aware of their rights. “We also need to examine the access to critical information available and the mechanisms in place to disseminate it to the people,” he noted. The workshop was attended by law students, IAS aspirants, members of the general public and activists. Swapna Sundar, a member of the AIPC, said that while the RTI Act was a good tool, it was necessary to help people learn the nuances and pertinences of the requests for documents
Talks on RTI and Financial integrity and the issues and challenges in the use of the act were a part of the workshop.
Mohan Kumaramangalam, president of the Tamil Nadu Chapters of the AIPC, spoke about the effective use of the RTI Act in recent times by a group of farmers in Salem who opposed land acquisition for airport expansion.
“With awareness of the Act being the key, workshops like these need to go more out into rural spaces as well. The mechanism in place as a part of the RTI Act too needs to be made easier for people both to file petitions and receive information,” he said.