RIGHT TO INFORMATION: HISTORY, NEED AND SIGNIFICANCE
“The liberties of the people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them.” -- Patrick Henry, American colonial revolutionary
Reflecting on the above written quote – “The greater the access of the citizen to information, the greater would be the responsiveness of the government towards the needs of public”
240 years ago, Sweden passed the first freedom of information law in the world, principally sponsored by a Finnish clergyman Anders Chydenius, thus began the evolution of the most potent legislation which changed the world over.
Chronology of FOI laws around the world
Denmark, Norway 1970
Australia, New Zealand 1982
So far, 68 countries have passed FOI laws. As far as India is concerned, the right to information began its journey when the need to enact a law on right to information was recognised unanimously by the Chief Ministers Conference on “Effective and Responsive Government”, held on 24th May, 1997 at New Delhi. The Government of India, Department of Personnel, decided to set-up a ‘Working Group’ (on the ‘Right to Information and Promotion of Open and Transparent Government’) in January 1997 under the chairmanship of Mr. H. D. Shouri, which submitted its comprehensive and detailed report and the draft Bill on Freedom of Information in May 1997. It will be unfair not mentioning the initiatives taken up by a mass-based organisation called the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS) in a very backward region of Rajasthan - Bhim Tehsil – to assert their right to information by asking for copies of bills and vouchers and names of persons who have been shown in the muster rolls.
Although the efforts in in enactment of RTI were being made even before, when...