[dropcap]U[/dropcap]NION Home Minister Amit Shah said on Saturday that his government has taken a number of steps to proactively bring information in public domain, thereby reducing the need to file Right to Information (RTI) applications.
Speaking at the 14th annual convention of the Central Information Commission (CIC), he claimed that the RTI Act has bridged the gap between the people and the government, and addressed mistrust.
Shah said that in the 14 years since its enactment, the purpose and objective of the act has been fulfilled. He added that the main objective of RTI was to increase trust of people in the system of governance, and the act has been successful in instilling and strengthening the faith of the people that the system functions within the boundaries defined by the Constitution.
Shah noted that there has been very little misuse of RTI and said that this shows the maturity of Indian democracy. He said that awareness regarding transparency should not be limited to quasi-judicial proceedings and disposal of cases but government servants should instead actively reach out to people to make them aware of the proactive steps taken by government to increase transparency, accountability and efficiency in the government.
Shah praised RTI as a great step to remove injustice and corruption from the system and increase the efficiency of governance. He said that RTI removes arbitrariness from governance and acts as a major grievance redressal tool. He said that the use of high technology methods like video conference and digitization of RTI files makes the lives of litigants easier.
He said the government is creating infrastructure to ensure maximum information is put in public domain to reduce the need of filing RTI applications by citizens. He cautioned that the law should not be misused.
He hailed India as the first nation to have successfully created an accountability system till the last leg of governance. He said that India has nearly 5 lakh information officers working to fulfill the writ of RTI at different levels of government, and such a large number of officers working for the cause of transparency and accountability is unseen anywhere else in the world.
Chief Information Commissioner Sudhir Bhargava remarked that the annual convention offers an opportunity to reflect and introspect on the implementation of RTI Act and the success it has achieved in furthering our shared democratic values.
Shah presided over the convention as chief guest. Also present was Minister of State for Ministry of Development of North East Region (Independent Charge); Minister of State for the Prime Minister’s Office, Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pension, Departments of Space and Atomic Energy, Dr. Jitendra Singh.