RTI not just a right, duty too, says author-activist

Narayan Verma launches second edition of free book to Right to Information

geetanjali

Geetanjali Minhas | April 8, 2010



The Right to Information (RTI) Act is not just a fundamental right, but also a duty of every citizen – duty to use to to improve governance, says Narayan Verma.

“RTI is not only a fundamental right but also a duty of every citizen to use and apply it for social and national benefit,” said Verma, a chartered accountant and RTI activist whose book, “Right to Information - A route to good Governance” was launched in Mumbai Wednesday evening.

The book is an updated and enlarged edition of a book first published in 2007, which received an overwhelming response. Published by two NGOs, Bombay Chartered Accountants Society (BCAS ) and Public Concern for Governance Trust (PCGT), the book will be available free of cost.

Julio Ribeiro, a trustee of PCGT, said on the occasion: “Corruption thrives in secrecy and because people are ignorant. RTI is an instrument to fight corruption and breach the atmosphere of secrecy.

“It can be effectively used to get income tax refunds,” he added, giving an example.

In 2009, the Maharashtra State Information Commission dealt with 24,419 applications, surpassing even the Central Information Commission, which dealt with 19,633 applications with two more information commissioners on board.

While unveiling the book, Maharashtra Chief Information Commissioner Suresh Joshi said that since its inception the enthusiasm, acceptance and popularity of RTI has been unprecedented. In fact, RTI was instrumental in the formation of the Right to Education Act. It will strengthen the grassroots and empower masses. “Slum women have used this act the most,” he added.

Noting that social audit and judicious use of RTI can reduce “60-70 percent corruption”, Joshi said: “Seven days are enough to provide information to the applicant. The state government should issue suo motu instructions that officers who provide information in seven days will be appreciated in their confidential reports.”

The book contains information on several important decisions, court judgments, frequently asked questions, information on websites, scope and limitations of the Act and news reports.

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