Transparency has been a consistent area of focus for this blog and to this end, we’ve certainly tried to make much use of the RTI mechanism. As Shamnad has previously noted, “From 2007 when we first shot off a protest petition (signed by many of you) to the Prime Ministers’ Office asking that patent data be available for public access, up until our RTI investigations into the authorship of the controversial section 3(d), we’ve come a long way. However, much more needs to be done to resuscitate IP data and unlock it from the deep dark dungeons of opacity. The benefits of transparency are myriad and I reflect on some of them here.“
Thus we were very pleased to see that five new Information Commissioners were administered the oath of office to the Central Informational Commission (CIC). The five new information commissioners are Shri Yashovardhan Azad, Shri Sharat Sabharwal, Smt Manjula Prasher, Shri M A Khan Yusufi and Shri Madabhushanam Sridhar Acharyulu. This brings the total number of commissioners up to 10. The role of this commission is essentially to ensure the proper functioning of the Right to Information machinery by inquiring into complaints made by any person who has had trouble with their RTI requests. The list of their functions is available here.
I was also pleased to hear that the appointment of Shri M A Khan Yusufi and Shri Madabhushanam Sridhar Acharyulu represent the first ever inductees from the area of Law to the CIC. Professor Acharyulu, whom I also had the good fortune of studying ‘Media law’ under at NALSAR, had the following to say when I spoke to him about his new appointment:
“One survey showed that only 0.3 per cent of population of India used the RTI, which comes to 0.5% of electorate. Though the RTI is changing the game rules and creating a fear among the decision makers about possible questions in future, a lot has to be done to empower the citizens with the knowledge of RTI through which they should enlighten and brighten the democracy. It’s a tool that has potential to keep democracy a democracy.”
This looks to be a very positive step by the CIC and over at SpicyIP, we certainly look forward to reaping the benefits of a more smoothly functioning RTI system.
[Relevant Press Release available here]