RTI act keeps a check on the power balance between the government and the public
The history of the evolution of the Right to Information (RTI) Act is too Long. The Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was passed with 218 members voting in favour and 79 against it. RTI is the only law made for the public to bring everyone including the lawmakers accountable. There have been many hurdles in the way of RTI Bill becoming an act. Many laws were preventing the implementation of the RTI act.
Official Secrecy Act 1923: This law prohibits all the government servants from disclosing any information to the public. The law was the most challenging in the history of RTIact 2005.
Section 123 of the Indian evidence Act 1872: This law states that no one shall be permitted to be given any evidence form the unpublished official records related to any affairs of State.
Oath by the Public Servant, Rule 11 of The Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules, 1964, Rule 9 of The All India Services (Conduct) Rules, 1968 and Archives Policy Resolution of 22 December 1972 were the other laws that prohibited the implementation of the right to information act.
How did it RTI came into existence?
Under the leadership of Morarji Desai, Janata Government constituted a working group to ascertain the Official Secrets Act, 1923 could be modified so that a greater flow of information will be given to the public. However, the working group recommended that the Act should be retained without change.
The famous case of MR. Kulwant v/s Jaipur Municipal Corporation in the Supreme Court gave directives that without information the freedom of speech and expression can not be enjoyed by the citizens which are being granted to them by Article 19 of the Indian constitution.
Prime Minister VP Singh stressed on the importance of the Right to Information. V.P Singh was the first politician to support and stress for the introduction of this law. In 1989-90 he tried to enact the legislation. However, due to political instability, the idea didn’t come into existence.
Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sanghatan started a grass-roots campaign to right to information. They have organized rallies and awareness programs to educate common people regarding the importance of Right to Information. In Rajasthan, the movement grew demanding Information concerning developmental works in rural Rajasthan. The Rajasthan government enacted a law on the Right to Information in 2000. It was the biggest success and most important turn in to formation of the RTI act.
National Campaign for the people’s Right to Information was formed with the prime objective of getting legislation on the RTI passed. Due to the public pressure and the growing demand for the right to inform the press council of India headed by J B Sawant who drafted a law which was later updated and changed at a workshop and renamed “The Press Council–NIRD Freedom of Information Act, 1997.
In 1997 Tamil Nadu passes the RTI Act and became the first State in India to have passed the law.
Madhya Pradesh government tabled a bill on right to Information and was passed by the legislation. However, it didn’t become law because the governer did not assent.
Freedom of Information Bill, 2000 was introduced in parliament.
Freedom of Information Bill,2000 was passed in both the Houses of Parliament in December 2002. This was the first version of the bill proposed by the NCPRI and other pressure group bodies.
Freedom of Information Bill got a nod of the President of India in January 2003 and became law known as Freedom of Information Act No.5 of 2003.
NCPRI devised amendments to the Freedom of Information Act,2002, and forwarded to the NAC. NAC endorsed it after some minor changes and recommended to the government. There was a lot of opposition from politicians and bureaucrats in adopting these changes. However, there were huge protests by citizens and civil societies to when attempts were made to re-notify the earlier Freedom of Information Act
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On 23 December 2004, the UPA government tabled the RTI bill 2004, applicable only to the Union Government however, there was huge criticism for this bill. After the lobbying by NCPRI and other peer groups Right to Information, the act was passed after 150 amendments.
The Bill was passed in Lok Sabha on May 11, 2005, and in Rajya Sabha it was passed on May 12, 2005. On June 15, 2005 President of India gave its consent for the making of this law.
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