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An inalienable right

  • Published at 12:03 am October 31st, 2019

It is absolutely necessary for the RTI Act to work as it was intended

One of the key tenets of any working democracy is a citizen’s right to acquire or confirm certain information regarding our national bureaucracy.

Which is exactly why the Right to Information Act 2009 (RTI) was formulated and officially ratified 10 years ago.

However, despite the legislation, it is disheartening to know that a majority portion of all appellants under the RTI Act does not get any sort of acknowledgement from the authorities, let alone the information they require.

Under the RTI Act, anyone can appeal for information from the government or a non-government organization, and the process takes place over three phases: Application, appeal, and complaint.

If any information provided in the first phase is not satisfactory, then the appellant is expected to proceed to the subsequent phases.

According to a survey commissioned by the World Bank -- and conducted by a consortium led by Manusher Jonno Foundation -- almost 60% of all appellants did not even get a response, while 27% were rejected for “seeking confidential information.”

What is the point of having a dedicated legislation if the mechanism itself is mired in such excessive levels of inefficiency?

While we understand that there is certain information which can be considered sensitive, it is no excuse for the administration to not follow through with the requests of appellants in such a blanket manner.

An inalienable right, the right to information is a cornerstone of a country like ours, which was founded upon the principles of democracy.

To that end, it is absolutely necessary for the RTI Act to work as it was intended.