Protest Suberversion of Right to Information sign now

To: Shri Man Mohan Singh, Prime Minister of India
Shri APJ Abdul Kalam, President of India
Shri Bhairon Singh Sekhawat, Vice-President of India.
Shri LK Advani, Leader of Opposition
Shri Somnath Chaterjee, Speaker Lok Sabha
Shri Prakash Karat, CPI(M)
All Members of Union Cabinet
All Members of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha

The decision of the Government of India to amend the Right to Information Act [1] to limit its scope is disturbing. This amendment will defeat the very reason for which the Right to Information was incorporated. The duty of the government is to promote openness and transparency in its working. Any amendment that restricts the flow of information between govt. and citizenry is a bad public policy. We ask government of India to not bring any amendment to limit this important right. We request Government not only to protect the right to information but also to strengthen it by making it one of the fundamental right.

We appeal not only to the Government of India, but also to every member of Indian Parliament, all social activists, intellectuals and individual to protect the Right to Information.

With the passage of the Right to Information Bill 2005 on May 12, 2005 India is became one of the 55 countries that have legislated comprehensive laws that protect the citizens' right to information.

The Right to Information is an important tool for building a dynamic and prosperous society by involving the people in governance and decision making process. The Supreme Court of India has, from time to time, interpreted Article 19, which upholds the right to freedom of speech and expression, to implicitly include the right to receive and impart information. There had been relentless efforts and mass mobilization in favor of a comprehensive Central Act providing access to information regimes.

However, the proposed amendment would make right to information ineffective. Therefore, we appeal against any amendment to dilute the scope of Right to Information.

The transparency that Right to Information significantly improves the government delivery system that happens to be the Indias biggest problem. A huge amount of money is spent every year on numerous welfare programs, but very little reaches to the beneficiaries because of leaks, losses and inefficiencies in the government machinery. In the states where the right to information has been implemented, people discovered leaks in the delivery system and closed some of the leaks so that the money is actually spent on employment and welfare activities. We want people to be able to keep an eye in leaks and pilferage.

One of the biggest complains of the people of the India is lack of accountability among the government officials. The Right to Information increases transparency resulting in higher accountability in government. An accountable government is good for everyone. People get what is due to them, and government benefits by assurance that money and programs they design benefit their constituencies.

It is a shame that India is the one of the most corrupt countries in the world. The simplest way to remove corruption is to remove the conditions under which corruption exists. Corruption thrives under darkness. Lack of transparency and openness promote corrupt practices. Govt. can remove corruption by strengthening the right to information. Restricting right to information will encourage corruption. We therefore ask Indian Parliamentarians to defeat any amendment in Right to Information and build a corruption free India.

Only those people who gain from corruption, lack of accountability and transparency oppose the right to information.

The right to information was obtained after years of activism and hard work countless people. People of India are fortunate to have a Right to Information to protect from lack of information. They must not loose this right. It is unfortunate that government is amending the Right to Information Act barely a few months after it was notified. The people of India must not suffer for convenience of a few people. We want Govt of India to give chance to Right to Information to survive and take root. Full benefits of right to information will not be realized until Indian government and bureaucracy internalizes it. Any tinkering with Right to Information at this nascent stage may kill this right forever.

We oppose any amendment in the right to information that restricts peoples ability to get information. We request government of India to stand strong to protect right to Information.


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Juliana MorseBy:
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