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Modi was speaking at the 10th anniversary of the RTI Act that enshrined the right in the constitution. Photo: PTI
Modi was speaking at the 10th anniversary of the RTI Act that enshrined the right in the constitution. Photo: PTI

Digital India complementary to RTI, says PM Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday described the Right to Information (RTI) Act as a tool for good governance

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday described the Right to Information (RTI) as a tool for good governance on the 10th anniversary of the Act that enshrined the right in the constitution.

“The government’s Digital India initiative is complementary to RTI, because putting information online brings transparency, which in turn builds trust. RTI has become a tool for good governance," Modi said at the inauguration of the 10th annual convention of the Central Information Commission (CIC).

He said people’s RTI queries can lead to disclosure of information that exposes problems in overall governance and policies and even one perfect RTI query can lead to improvement in policy.

Modi also described RTI Act as a tool through which the common man has got not just the right to know, but also the right to question those in power.

While batting for proactively giving information to people, the Prime Minister called for an end to a silo approach in the government. Administrative processes should be run on the basis of trusting people rather than doubting people, he said.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who also attended the conference, highlighted the achievements of RTI, which he said had promoted fairness in decision making; those making decisions in the government are aware that their actions are open to public scrutiny.

Many RTI activists were not invited to the event because of what they described as ‘frivolous’ security concerns. Angry activists said CIC conventions had always been inaugurated by prime ministers and presidents in the past, but never before had activists been restricted from participation.

In protest, RTI activists including Aruna Roy, Nikhil Dey, Anjali Bhardwaj, Venkatesh Nayak, Shekhar Singh and Lokesh Batra had passed a resolution, under the banner of the National Campaign for Peoples’ Right to Information earlier, stating that even those who had been invited to event would not attend the inaugural session.

Meanwhile, some activists from other states, who were invited by their respective state information commissions, were left stranded outside the venue, Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi, even after the inauguration. The activists were finally allowed entry inside the venue in the afternoon after the intervention of senior CIC officials.

“I came to Delhi on my own expense—travelling and hotel—only after my participation was confirmed by the Jammu and Kashmir state information commission. But we are stranded outside the venue," said Balwinder Singh, an RTI activist from Jammu and Kashmir, before being granted entry.

Since RTI’s inception in 2005, the annual convention of the CIC witnesses congregation of government officials, information commissions and activists from across India.

Since 2005, the CIC has received 212,000 complaints and appeals, of which 162,000 have been disposed of in its adjudicatory role. As per official government records, around five million requests for information were received till June 2015 across the country.

The theme of the two-day convention is RTI: Outlook for the future—Trust through Transparency. After the inaugural session, various technical sessions are scheduled on themes focusing on working of the Commission and the benefits of the RTI Act.

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