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Right to Information (RTI) act

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 RTI is a powerful tool provided by the Government of India and in tern by each of the individual States. Of late TOI and many news papers have taken the RTI route to expose scams themselves. To days TOI carried the details of the RWA meet organized by the paper yesterday (Wednesday).

It’s the usual thing: office-holders claim that crores of rupees have been spent on developmental works, while residents wonder where the money has gone, and complain of a lack of amenities. 
    Now tired of complaining, some residents have also taken on the task of auditing the works in their wards before the elections. According to an RTI reply to the status of works in Padmanabhanagar, a long list of projects were marked as completed. But the residents said that a physical survey showed a majority of them were still in progress. Worse, some of them were still in the initial stages!” 

Ironically on Wednesday a prominent social activist Satish Shetty (39) was murdered, whose story the TOI had to carry along with the RWA meeting report. 

Social activist Satish Shetty (39), who had blown the whistle on a series of land scams in and around Talegaon, Lonavala and Pimpri-Chinchwad, was brutally murdered by some unidentified assailants near his residence at Talegaon-Dabhade on Wednesday.

Shetty was on his morning walk when he was attacked with swords and sharp weapons around 7 am. He was rushed to hospital, but was declared dead on arrival. An anticorruption crusader for the last 15 years, Shetty was wielding the Right to Information Act (RTI) Act to expose irregularities in government offices. Shetty exposed Pune land scams”

 RTI is the first step towards good governance. However the necessary and sufficient condition for RTI to serve the purpose is the correctness and completeness of the Information available with the government. The first step is obviously to put up the full information on the public domain easily accessible. What is the crucial information, necessary and sufficient for good governance? 

First we have to understand the sole purpose of a government. It is nothing but basics civic sense, consisting of the civic triangle. To put in a different way 

1.      Right to secure life

2.      Right to secure assets.

3.      Right to be free from oppression

4.      Etc

Leaving the principles and coming brass tact it is

  1. Secure identity of each legal citizen of the country. (already on the job)
  2. Secure Legal heirs information (already identified)
  3. Secure Land records of each inch of the country. (already identified)
  4. Secure Income tax paid details of each IT payee

It is required that the above information should be available on the web for any body to access and verify. It should also be possible to obtain Certified copies of any of this Information.

Comments

RKCHARI's picture

RTI or RTWI?

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Dear PSA Sir,

You are right. The famous RTI should, as far as Karnataka is concerned, be called Right to Wrong Information! Our RWA had filed an RTI with the then CMC, Mahadevpura seeking info about a piece of disputed land - to know whether it belonged to the Developer or was it Kharab land. I, as President of the RWA at that time had actually filed the RTI application.

On the 29th day I got a written reply from CMC to say the land was Kharab Land and that it actually belonged to BBMP who had subsequently amalgamated the CMC wards.

The Developer lodged a case in the lower courts and got a verdic diametrically opposite to the CMC statement and when the learned judge was shown the CMC reply, she merely said CMC reply is not necessarily correct as borne out by the fact that the Developer had paid the compensation amount to CMC to allow the kharab land to be joined with his property!

Just an example of the usefulness and otherwise of RTI

Regards

RKC

murali772's picture

what's the message, please?

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@Chari - Whatever, through the process, you got the information you wanted - that the land had been legally acquired by the developer. So, the RTI was effective.

RTI has been used by many people the country-over to gain information, and has in the process become a very useful tool to fight corruption. I myself have used it effectively a number of times. Two of my queries are currently awaiting responses, and I am sure I'll be able to put them to good use.

So, why trivialise its usefulness?

@psaram - What was the point being made by posting this blog, Sir? Was it to warn RTI activists of consequences like the one that befell Mr Shetty? Unfortunate as that is, it is certainly not going to deter anyone, since activists are a different breed altogether, and such occurences are only going to strengthen their resolve, even while being more careful perhaps. So, if you had a word of encouragement, or sympathy, perhaps it would have served some purpose.


 

Muralidhar Rao
psaram42's picture

The message is governance.

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 @ Murali 

Right Information is a powerful tool in the hands of the citizens, who care. That is what the first sentence of my blog entry was. However a powerful tool needs expertise to use. Unless the safe guards are in place the use of the tool is limited to the powerful. I wanted to elaborate this point as a comment later. 

I am no body to give a message, Murali sir. I don’t believe in public condolence, either.

bharatm's picture

 A way out can be, if govt

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 A way out can be, if govt allows to file RTI online with anonymous application. Also to get the fee related to it  by allowing people to buy coupons without names, which can be distributed like postal tickets having scratch code. Something similar mode of payment which mobile recharge used to have. So person can file anonymous RTI paying the fee using the scratch code. Sending the information through the email only.  ( Not full proof but makes it accessible easily from any part of country. So you can be far from the place of intended people) 

Trusting govt for the securing identity is tough call. In this case only problem is people might be having access to info who do not belong to country. For this purpose we can have also have encrypted and Automated identity verification based on passport no. Though no one can see/access passport number of applicant ( because its encrypted). If it is shown to some one ( Responsible)  then it will be recorded and the person who has seen the identity becomes solely responsible person for making the identity of applicant public. 

 

Naveen's picture

Freedom to Information - Vital

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Mr Chari /Mr Ananthram /Mr Murali,

Satish Shetty's death, though tragic, will never be a waste. He has perhaps made benchmark contributions for further development of the RTI process. A spinoff from his contribution might just be similar to what BharatM has tried to speculate above.

Freedom to Information is vital & is here to stay, however crude the process might be presently, during these early days.

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