Q2(b). ‘The Right to Information Act is not all about citizens’ empowerment alone, it essentially redefines the concept of accountability.’ Discuss. (150 words) 10
The RTI Act empowers the citizens to seek information from any public authority. However, once the information is available to the public, they are free to use it in any way. If they find that the decision taken by the public servant is arbitrary, biased or not in accordance with the law or public interest, they can approach the appropriate forum like courts, media and even senior officers or ministers to expose the wrongdoing of the officer.
In earlier times, the officers could keep the information secret and only their superiors could get access to the files and information. Hence, they were accountable only to them. However, in the RTI regime, they can’t keep the information secret and hence they are accountable to multiple institutions and the public at large. Hence, even though a government officer may have taken a decision based on the orders of his superior officer or a minister, he can’t escape his responsibility to the public as such. Thus, the RTI Act has redefined the concept of accountability in India. (176 words)