During the year 2005-06 to 2015-16, total number of RTI applications received by public authorities in India including the Union and state governments are 2,43,94,951,” the NGO said in a report.
According to an analysis by NGO Commonwealth Human Rights initiative, the death toll of RTI activists was 56 between 2005 and mid-2016. Of these, there were 51 murders and 5 suicides. There were also 130 instances of harassment. The government has also proposed to automatically stop proceedings related to an RTI query if the applicant dies while the appeal is pending before the Chief Information Commissioner. The same set of draft proposals even provides for the withdrawal of a right to information application. This would not only limit the scope of the act but can also make activists more vulnerable.
India is one of the 70 countries with freedom of information law. It is also one of the most corrupt nations, according to a recent report by transparency international.
As many as 60 RTI activists have been killed and 300 have been harassed and abused since the act was introduced in 2005, according to the Commonwealth Human Rights initiative.
According to latest estimates, between 5-5.6 million RTI applications are received every year, wanting to know the reasons behind government decisions. Many want public authorities to take prompt action on grievances about stoppage of pensions or scholarships, or poor quality of services in government hospitals, schools and colleges. Others use RTI to expose corrupt practices in building roads with taxpayers’ money, or how welfare programmes for the underprivileged are implemented
The RTI has been an instrument in bringing in transparency and curbing corruption, thereby enhancing democracy at various levels. But unless there is a way to protect the activists, the purpose behind such openness will be defeated.
RTI is one of the strongest legislations made for the common man, giving them a right to question any public authority and their activities. Whether it is poor maintenance of roads outside your house or water connection problems or cleanliness issues in your area or the pension process, you can ask for any information in the public domain under the RTI Act.