The value of any freedom is determined by the extent to which the citizens are able to enjoy such freedom. As, in our country the pre requisite for ensuring such freedom is good governance and in regard to this the Indian government had enacted the Freedom of Information Act, 2002, which was later repealed and is now prestigiously known as Right to Information Act, 2005. The main purpose of enacting this act is to empower Indian citizens to seek information from a Public Authority which will in turn make Government and its functionaries more accountable, responsible and regular in its functioning. Also, the high roaring corruption in today’s scenario lays a mandate for such transparency and accountability in government agencies. Thus, RTI is framed as a potent tool for eradicating corruption, misuse of power and for ensuring good governance in government agencies
The government has provided the platform for citizens to access information held by Public Authorities and it also entails one of the key sectors of the Government i.e. Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs). PSUs are the Government owned corporations and to be PSU the company equity needs to be majorly owned by the Government. As these PSUs works under the purview of the government it majorly becomes the right of the citizens to seek information from these PSUs under the RTI Act, 2005 in order to ensure about any details relating to it. There must be transparency in their functioning and if they lack in transparency, then accountability cannot be fixed.
In today’s era, India can be called as democratic country only when the society as a whole is given a power to scrutinize the performance of their elected representatives, bureaucrats and other functionaries who act on behalf of the state. But before scrutinizing the performance, people have to be well versed and informed of its various policies, actions and failures they face. The democracy is set up on the precedent of informed citizenry. A true test of good democratic governance is where a transparent, easy to understand and rational policy formulation is present. People who are the representatives of the nation should be given a right to know how and why certain decisions are taken. Mere proclamation of people centered decisions would not help instead they should be allowed to judge the quality of governance, transparency and a right to evaluate, examine and even seeking necessary information regarding quality of decisions as this can be the only medium of avoid lack of transparency, accountability in governance and building confidence of people in the government decisions and policies. In order to ensure the same, the Government of India has taken the most appropriate step by enacting Right to Information Act, 2005. The Act becomes effective law with effect from 12th October, 2005. The Act comprises of 31 short and simple sections with extreme power and effectiveness. The act lays down a foundation for making the administration of the Government and its units more people centered, fair, accountable and democratic. The RTI Act is passed after years of struggle in order to secure the transparent, accountable and public participatory governance and further this act marks a notable milestone in the evolution of the Indian democracy. The success of this Act is dependent on the satisfaction in the Indian citizens regarding their queries.
The RTI Act includes all government bodies and organizations including NGOs, all Public Sector Undertakings, all bodies and institutions of self – government established or constituted by law made by Parliament or state legislature.
The Act has also imposed certain obligation on the Public Sector department regarding their duties and responsibilities towards the citizens and the fulfillment of object of this act. As per the Chapter II, section 4(1)(b) RTI Act, 2005, every public sector should mention the particulars to its department and their various functions and duties as prescribed in the memorandum and articles of the individual PSUs. The powers and duties assigned to each of its officers and employees by the PSEs. The procedures followed by each individual PSU while making the decision on any certain aspect or project, including the sources which will channelize the supervision and accountability of those decisions implementation and project. The norm which they follow for the discharge of its functions and further the records, manuals, rules, regulations and the instructions given to them time to time by the board held by it or under its control or used by its employees for discharging its functions. The documents held by each department of the PSU and the control over those documents. Any implementation and further formation of policy will be arranged in consultation with or representatives of the members or the public. Therefore, a statement of the boards, councils, committees and other bodies consisting of two or more persons constituted as its part or for other purpose of its advice and the meetings of those boards, councils, committees and other bodies are open to the public, or the minutes. A directory of its officers and employees and the disclosure of the monthly remuneration received by each of its officers and employees including the system of compensation as provided in its regulations. The public should be duly acknowledged regarding the particulars of the plans of PSUs projects, the expenditure which they are planning to invest on their projects and the further reports on the reimbursement, if any, on those proposed expenditures, particulars of recipients of concessions of such projects. This information can be send to the citizens in the electronic form also.
Right to Information under RTI Act, 2005 is powerful tool for attaining the same and ensuring people’s governance. The object of this act is to eradicate the opacity and ensure transparency in the functioning of government agencies as that of PSUs’. This transparency in government agencies will make the officials accountable for their acts which affect the public interest. RTI Act, 2005 has formulated a new dimension of participatory form of governance which empowers its citizens, fortify the roots of democracy and make government organizations accountable for their actions.
Though it has been ten years after the enactment of RTI Act, 2005 but unreceptive attitude of powerful administrative system acts as a strong deterrent. To stand against such hostile and unreceptive attitude of powerful administrative functionaries, the citizens have to increase the usability of the act to make it a user friendly act and it could serve the object of combating corruption by ensuring transparency and accountability which are basics of good governance system.
Sathe SP, Right to Information, lexis Nexis Butterworths, Delhi, 2005
Cabinet Secretariat Performance Management, Right to Information and obligations on Public Authorities, § 4 of RTI Act, Available at: http://www.performance.gov.in/?q=rti, Last visited on 25th September, 2015