Asserting that secrecy has no place in this time and age, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said RTI process should follow ‘3-T’ mantra of timely, transparent and trouble-free access to information to people. Speaking at the 10th annual Convention of Central Information Commission, Modi noted that Right to Information Act has given the common man the right to question those in power and stressed on bringing transparency “proactively”, saying the faster “we move towards transparency”, the stronger will be the faith of people in democracy.
“The process of accessing information should be transparent, timely and trouble-free. Delayed information does not help to solve the problem but increases it. Timely information can halt a wrong decision. We will emphasize this”, he said. Highlighting ambitious Digital India, the Prime Minister said the scheme is complementary to the spirit of RTI as the more things become online, the more transparency comes in. He also stressed that RTI should be used to bring improvement in governance.
“If a question is asked by a citizen there must be some issue in government that the need for question arose. A small RTI question can force you to change policy”, he said. Modi said the Right To Information Act is a tool through which the common man has got not just the right to know, but also the right to question those in power. He said there should be trust between the Government and people and it comes through transparency.
The Prime Minister said effort should be to introduce transparency in a proactive manner. “Why can’t we bring transparency proactively? Why should anyone make effort to get information. The effort of the government should be that citizen should get information easily”, he said. Talking about introduction of self-attestation of documents, the Prime Minister said “we have to trust people”. “Secrecy could have been the norm during some old times but I don’t think there is need of such secrecy now.
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Transparency brings in simplicity and speed in the working of the government”, he said. “The awareness of people gives strength to government and not only government, an aware society becomes an asset to the nation. The process of evolution of RTI Act will continue which will strengthen it”, he said. Referring to the role played by the Right To Information Act in bringing positive changes in governance, the Prime Minister said the law can also help in reviewing government policies.
Modi said his government’s initiative of Digital India, which will ensure that all administrative work is done online, is fully linked with the RTI initiative. “When matters go online, all issues become transparent and the key objective of RTI is to bring transparency in governance. Maximum online, maximum transparency. There is no need for maintaining secrecy in administrative work. Those days are gone”, he said.
On the government’s decision to end the practice of attestation by gazetted officers in photocopies of documents, the Prime Minister said it reflected the government’s trust in people and such a move increases people’s faith in government. Modi said RTI should be used for bringing changes in governance and not to limit it to just replying to questions on a particular subject.
“If we limit RTI just to reply to questions, there will be no changes in governance. We have to analyse the RTI questions and ponder whether there is need to make changes in policy matters”, he said. The Prime Minister said to ensure good governance, every department must take every RTI seriously and see that subjects raised are addressed adequately.
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