Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Information and Democracy in India

Sharmendra Chaudhry, National Law School of India University, has published Right to Information in India. Here is the abstract.

Right to Information is the bulwark of democratic government. This right is essential for the proper functioning of the democratic process. Right to Information is an integral part of the freedom of speech and expression enshrined in Article 19(1)(A) of the constitution, which is regarded as the first condition of liberty. It occupies preferred position in the hierarchy of liberties giving succour and protection to other liberties. The expression "freedom of speech and expression" in Article 19(1)(a) has been held to include the right to acquire information and disseminate the same. It includes the right to communicate it through any available media whether print or electronic or audio-visual, such as, advertisement, movie, article or speech, etc. This freedom includes the freedom to communicate or circulate one’s opinion without interference to as large a population in the country, as well as abroad, as is possible to reach. Communication and receipt of information are the two sides of the same coin. An important aspect of freedom of speech and expression is considered the freedom to receive and disseminate information without any hindrance. Without adequate information, a person cannot form an informed opinion.

The aim of the researcher is to outline firstly the significance of the right to information, particularly in empowering ordinary citizens to combat state corruption as well as to highlight some lacuna in the Right to Information Act. The aim is to focus over the efforts at the national level to legislate this right. The researcher has tried to focus over the implication of Right to Information Act over the Higher Judiciary in the light of latest controversy in the case of The Central Public Information Officer, Supreme Court of India v. Subhash. Whether the RTIA is meeting expectations about its revolutionary potential? This is a question that is relevant not only in India, but in many other countries in similar circumstances, which have either adopted or are considering the adoption of FOIA-style legislation. The aim of this article to is synthesize the main findings of these recent Indian studies.

The only way to secure substantial right to information available to the citizens of India is to implement the Right to Information Act, 2005 strictly according to the provisions of law. It is essential that the Higher Judiciary should realize its responsibility and should be covered within the scope of the RTI Act. Higher the authority, higher should be the accountability to the people of India.

Download the paper from SSRN at the link.

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