Obligatory and timely: RTI

A priority for any government which is seriously committed to transparency and accountability to the public should be entrenching the right to information (called RTI after this). Constitutional provision of RTI alone is not enough and therefore, needs enactment of a specific law. It should also be born in mind that provisions form the basis for such a law.

The rights to information statute, freedom of information statute are some examples of what some of the other democracies in the world have enacted in allowing citizenry rights in terms of information consumption. Only when democratic populace has access to information about the decisions it’s government makes can they truly use powers democracy promises them. The right of the public to access information is vital to making democratic participation more meaningful.

An effective tool in exposing corruption, access to information will complement the government’s strong anti-corruption policy in Bhutan of zero tolerance, it is inevitably a vital force. The public would then truly be participating in the local development and ensuring that development the local government does their jobs correctly, on time and in keeping with relevant rules. While RTI remains a constitutional obligation to have in place, it is also critical that the public at large understand RTI as future users of the statue. Individually and as well as institutions (media for instance), we may have a lot of questions that need answering too. This is not to say that answers are not available now but clearer institutionalized mechanisms need to be in place. Mechanisms which would make information sharing a necessity and for others, points of delivery for information consumers established so that public information does not become proprietary to any one person or institution (unless it concerns national security). It has been a year since knowledge of draft legislation on the right to information has come in the knowledge of the public (post democracy) and since then there has been no news. Right to information legislation has the potential to bring about more transparency and openness in governance and democracy to the people. By not giving it enough priority, it would delay the public that right by such duration and period, especially at a time when we talk so much of a vision of a vibrant and functioning democracy with zero corruption.


About Sangay Khandu

Elected to Parliament of Bhutan twice. Previously worked with the Central Bank, the largest SoE (power utility) and international organization.
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One Response to Obligatory and timely: RTI

  1. daanishraza says:

    Hi Sangay,

    you are absolutely right in saying that the RTI act can usher in an era of transparency…but unfortunately in India, the government is now hell bent on sabotaging the RTI act, 2005. It is not paying heed to the voices of the civil society. Pray for the act.

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