When the Right to Information (RTI) Act was brought into play four years ago this day, it was hoped that it would throw light on the dark recesses of our governments. It has not lived up to that promise.
While routine queries about government services are answered with greater frequency when citizens resort to RTI, the process of decision making even at most levels of government remains opaque.
Multiple exceptions built into RTI by India’s clever bureaucrats have ensured this. If at one level section 8 of the RTI Act exempts a large swathe of government departments, vexing interpretation of rules by officials who serve as public information officers frustrates the mandate of the law.
In parts of the country that are at a distance from scrutiny by the media, harassment of RTI applicants by agencies such as the police is routine.
Perhaps it is too much and too early for a single law to change the culture of obstruction and secrecy in the government. Maybe RTI needs more time to deliver.