RTI Act India
India’s landmark legislation of Right To Information (RTI) has been rated the 4th best in the world according to an annual rating of RTI like laws across the world. The rank has been given by the Center for Law & Democracy & Access to Info Europe that rate countries every year based on the quality of the RTI legislation every year. India stood 4th out of 111 countries that have similar laws. Mexico has been rated as the top country replacing Serbia.
How the ratings are given?
The rating comparatively assesses the strength of the legal frameworks for the right to information from around the world. The methodology involves 61 indicators. For each indicators, the countries earn points between 0-2, with a total 150 points. The indicators are divided into seven different categories, namely: Right of Access, Scope, Requesting Procedures, Exceptions and Refusals, Appeals, Sanctions and Protections, and Promotional Measures.
Mexico and other countries
This is for the first time that Serbia has been replaced by Mexico as the top country, since the rating was launched in 2011. Mexico has revamped its ‘General Act of Transparency and Access to Public Information’ and hence scored 136 points out of a possible total of 150. This is a significant improvement on their previous score of 117 and just ahead of Serbia, which scores 135 points.
Among the new countries that enacted the RTI legislation, Sri Lanka was found to be the strongest with 121 points, making it stand in the 9th position globally. RTI like legislation is now active in every south-Asian countries, except Bhutan. All the countries from south-Asia scored above 100, except Pakistan. With just 66 points Pakistan was placed in the 89th position.
India stood at the 4th position bagging 128 points out of 150. In terms of Right to Access, India scored well but it lost five points in scope since the law exempts certain organisations from its ambit and also does not include private organizations that perform a public function. India also scored 25 out of 30 in requesting procedures since it is not free to file an application under RTI and the law does not mention anything about the unlimited reuse of information obtained through RTI. India’s RTI law scored 26 in the Exceptions category since the harm test is not applicable to all the exemptions mentioned in Section 8 of the RTI act. India scored the highest on appeals (29 out of 30). In the Sanctions category, India scored 5 out of the 8 since there is no strong legal protection for whistleblowers. India scored 13 out of 16 in the Promotional Measures category since there are no prescribed standards for record management and they are not followed in practice.
The RTI legislation of India is one of the most successful in the world as it has been able to expose a large number of scams and unearthed money worth hundreds of crores. Active participation of RTI activists has made it possible. The CWG scam, Adarsh Scam, 2G scam came into light because of RTI.