3 Nov : The 3rd Annual Convention on Right to Information (RTI) was inaugurated by the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh here today. The theme of this year’s convention is “RTI and its Ramifications for Good Governance.” In his remarks, Dr. Manmohan Singh said the operationalisation of RTI shows a gradual but steady process of building the more accountable, transparent and citizen friendly governance.RTI Act is indicative of the process of maturing of our democracy and the assertion of people’s power at various levels of governance, he said. The Prime Minister said, even as we celebrate our individual empowerment through legislations like the Right to Information Act, let us not forget our collective responsibilities and our national goals. Minister of State, Shri Prithiraj Chauhan in his remarks said that RTI is an enabling tool for citizens. A study is already underway to assess the implementation of the RTI Act. The Minister said, Indian law is only in the world with penal provisions for defaulting officials. A centrally financed plan scheme for capacity building and awareness generation related to RTI has already been approved by the government. To make information under RTI available on phone, a pilot project on ‘call center for RTI on phone has been approved, the Minister added.In his welcome address, the Chief Information Commissioner, Central Information Commission (CIC), Shri Wajahat Habibullah said that RTI Act has introduced transparency in the functioning of our bureaucracy. To ensure efficacy of RTI, role of Information Commissioners should be considered crucial. Shri Habibullah said, a national sub-committee on Good Governnance, set up by CIC, has suggested that fundamental change in the attitude of bureaucracy is necessary for effective implementation of RTI Act. The freedom of information that has been introduced in India through RTI would further the cause of democracy in Asia and the world at large, he said.
The convention will have seven technical sessions covering major aspects of governance. The present convention is being attended by representatives of Civil Society and media both from within the country and from SAARC countries. The two day deliberations are expected to produce documents of contemporary as well as long term relevance to South Asia. Technical Sessions are being chaired by Justice Sri JS Verma, Former Chief Justice, Supreme Court, Shri B N Yugandhar, Member Planning Commission, Smt Aruna Roy, Social Activist, Shri Prannoy Roy, CMD, NDTV, Shri Wajahat Habibullah, Chief Information Commissioner, CIC and Shri A N Tiwari, Information Commissioner, CIC.
The various sessions are assigned to the issues : “RTI and Transparent Governance”,“RTI – Need for a Different Strategy Specific to Rural Area”, “RTI & Poverty Alleviation”, “RTI and Protection of Individual Privacy”, “Media, Civil Society and RTI; RTI in South Asia – An Overview and Current Assessment of RTI.”
The Central Information Commission has been organizing the Annual Convention every year since 2006. The Right to Information Act, 2005 creates many obligations on the State and the Central Government authorities for its implementation and sound monitoring.