‘RTI a vital tool for good governance’

November 4th, 2008 - 11:06 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 4 (IANS) The Right to Information (RTI) is a vital tool for good governance, experts said here at the Central Information Commission (CIC) convention Tuesday.Former chief justice of India J.S. Verma said: “Transparency and accountability are for good governance. If there is no transparency, accountability cannot be fixed.”

“There should be maximum disclosure and minimum confidentiality,” he added.

Justice Verma also strongly pitched in for judicial transparency and called for judges’ declaration of their personal assets.

“If the candidates contesting elections are required to furnish the statement of their assets and even of criminal cases pending against them, there are no reasons as to why judges should not file their property returns and be in the public domain,” the former chief justice of India said.

“There has to be a vast difference in the treatment of personal information of a private person and a public servant. The exemption available to a private person may not be available to a public servant. Public servant cannot take shelter behind the right to privacy as is available to a common citizen,” he added.

Senior advocate Fali S. Nariman said the right to freedom of speech and expression as enshrined in our constitution should be seen with the same view as the RTI.

“Privacy is notoriously difficult to define and narrowly as a right to control information about one’s self. The sphere of individual autonomy is the field of action that does not touch upon the liberty of others.”

Another Supreme Court advocate, Prashant Bhushan said: “Privacy should be valued but it must not obstruct the flow of information if under laws that piece of information is required to be submitted to a public authority.”

A police officer while conducting some investigation may happen to acquire some information of a personal nature about a citizen that surely may not be disclosed unless its nexus with public interest is apparent, he added.

B.K. Chakraborty, state Chief Information Commissioner of Tripura, said: “The meaning of privacy is freedom from intrusion by the public.”

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