The objective of the Modi government is to proactively put out as much information as possible in public domain to reduce the need for RTI applications, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said on Saturday. The success of a government does not lie in the high number of Right to Information (RTI) applications, Shah said while addressing the 14th annual convention of the Central Information Commission (CIC) here.
"Low number of RTI applications in spite of convenient avenues to file them means the government's work is satisfactory. Large number of RTI applications does not represent the government's success. We want to introduce a system where people do not feel the need to file an RTI application to get information," the home minister, who was the chief guest at the event, said.
Shah also emphasised the need to make people aware of their responsibilities along with their rights.
"I believe that along with Right to Information, we should also inculcate a sense of responsibility in the people. Do not use RTI without any reason, use it for transparency, avoid using it for personal reasons unless injustice is happening. In case of injustice, do use it. We should also promote right to responsibility," he said.
The dashboard system introduced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has ensured that everyone gets information about ongoing schemes online without filing RTI applications, Shah said.
"Through the use of dashboard, we began a new transparent era. One can go to the dashboard and see how many toilets have been built. Using the dashboard, one can check when one will get electricity connection under the Saubhagya Yojna. Any illiterate woman can click the dashboard and get to know when she will get a cooking gas cylinder," he said.
Asserting that RTI should be there, Shah said the government has gone two steps ahead of the law in ensuring transparency.
"The government has made the administration's work so transparent that there is minimum requirement to file RTI applications. The system should function in a way that we don't need to file RTI applications," he said.
"I have a request to the CIC, that you not only dispose of RTI applications but also inform people about the steps that have been taken to ensure that we do not need to file RTI applications," the home minister said.
Shah said during the last 14 years, the country has been successful in fulfilling the intention of framing the law. The fundamental thought behind the RTI Act is to build the trust of the public in the system, he said.
"The system runs on the four corners of the Constitution. The core objective of this law is to create trust among people that the system runs according to the Constitution.
"When this trust awakens about the Constitution and the system, the participation of people increases automatically which takes the country forward. But when there is mistrust, participation of people takes a back seat," he said.
In a country like India, it is important that trust and involvement of people in the rule and system are strengthened, the home minister said.
"We came out of a very long colonial rule when the objective of the administration was not the welfare of the people or treating them equally. The objective of the administration at that time was to fulfil the wishes of their masters. Because of this a gorge of mistrust developed between the people and the adminstration," he said.
The mistrust was so deep that it seemed difficult that people will be able to come out of it, Shah said.
"During the last 14 years, we have been able to fill gap of mistrust using the RTI. The trust of the people in the administration and the system has awakened," he said.
Calling the transparency law a major milestone in the democratic journey of the country, he said that "we can give good governance only through transparency and accountability, and the RTI has helped us a lot in improving transparency and accountability".
"When we assess the results of the RTI, we find that transparency has been increased, corruption has been reduced and the speed of governance has also been increased due to the RTI Act. We are heading towards a digitally empowered society," Shah said.
On the occasion, Minister of State for the Prime Minister's Office, Personnel and Public Grievances Jitendra Singh highlighted the government's steps in ensuring transparency and accountability.
"When the NDA government came to power in 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave us a mantra: 'maximum governance, minimum government'. Within three months of coming to power, the government did away with the need to attest documents while applying for government jobs," he said.
Singh said maximum governance means transparency.
He said that earlier, filing RTI was time bound but now, using the online portal, RTI can be filed day and night from anywhere.
Chief Information Commissioner Sudhir Bhargava said that RTI is a very important law in ensuring transparency in governance. "The RTI Act not only helps in providing information to the people but also ensures transparency in the government's function and accountability," he said. Bhargava said it also enables "us to question the government's decision, thereby increasing the participation of people in the governance and improves the quality of service."