It is increasingly clear that the true power of right to information cannot be unleashed in India without the continuous support of the media. As today’s story on Coal India’s diversion of money collected for the PM’s Relief Fund shows, the chief information commissioner (CIC) asked the PMO to inquire into the matter—after Mint highlighted in June one RTI request filed by an employee of Coal India. While other authorities may have acted on the RTI revelations at some point, there’s little doubt that the media’s responsible highlighting of RTI filings helps generate the necessary attention and action.
Also, as Mint reported last week, the government is yet to implement basic terms of the two-year-old Act even as the CIC faces hurdles, such as respondents getting court stays on its orders. This affirms that the media needs to build more awareness on the Act itself and keep a tab on follow-up action. Maybe it is time editors, including at this paper, have dedicated RTI beat reporters?