Saturday, October 23, 2021

16 years of empowering citizen

TS Information Commissioner Budha Murali gives away prize to a student while Dean, Law, Mahendra University Prof. Sridharacharylu Madabhushi looks on

  • RTI day observed by Mahindra Students

Most of the students of Mahindra University who participated in essay writing and debating competition expressed strong opinion that RTI Act is a wonderful success in 16 years as that helped majority of the information seekers to get information from public authorities, though some went in appeal to Commissioner level and some went even beyond and pending before the Constitutional Courts.

While some students felt that the RTI (Amendment) Act 2019 has reduced the independence of the Information Commissioners, some explained that it has made the Commissioners accountable. In more than 30 essays, the students explained the detailed mechanism in the RTI Act and exhorted the need to spread the awareness of RTI among more and more people. They also wrote that around 60 lakh people are seeking the information every year, which is a substantive success of the Act. However, some stated that the number of applications for information is not an appropriate criterion to test success or otherwise of the RTI, but one should look into how the RTI made the public authorities accountable and how much of information they have put in public domain on their own, which is mandate of Section 4(1)(b). Harika Cherukuri a winning student of B.B.A.,LL.B. wrote: “Because of the unprecedented COVID-19 outbreak, the necessity to evaluate how Information Commissions operate has never been more pressing especially since public funds are used to pay relief and welfare programmes. Needless to say, the poor and disenfranchised are disproportionately affected by the pandemic and rely primarily on government assistance. If citizens are denied access to relevant information during the epidemic, the system of socio-economic fairness and transparency will be shattered.”  Another winner Sahuriti Singh Pasari, another student of first year B.B.A., LL.B., says: “The success stories range from featuring tricks worth crores to guaranteeing attendance of the sweepers in urban communities to recognizing lost postal orders. Anyway, with the appearance of the RTI Act, residents have discovered an apparatus to get transparency and responsibility at all levels of the Governance. In specific the RTI Act highly affects the personal satisfaction of poor people and underestimated segment of the general public. Anyway, the force of the Act is still to be completely figured it out.”

The winners of the Competition were awarded books with commentary on Indian Constitution and a certificate. Telangana Chief Information Commissioner Buddha Murali gave away the Constitution Book prizes to winners in the Conference Hall of new building exclusively built for School of Law of Mahindra University. Debate winners: 1. Gurupriya Sharma(BA-LLB),  2.Kushala Simha (BA-LLB) and 3.Aditi Srivatsala Astakala( BBA-LLB); Winners in Essay writing: 1.Harika Cherukuri (BBA-LLB), 2.Ramki Jetti (Engineering) and 3.Sahruti Singh Pasari (BBA-LLB)

File RTI to know its power, TCIC

Knowledge about theory of RTI is not enough and complete unless one files an RTI and experience its positive effect, advised the Telangana Chief Information Commissioner Buddha Murali, while addressing the students and faculty of School of Law, Mahindra University on RTI day, 12th October 2021.

The RTI empowers the citizen with required information, if properly used, and enables him to participate in decision making process, Murali added. “I, and perhaps Prof Yajulu Meduri and Sridhar also must have come from small schools where the facilities are as rich as Mahindra university has, but the sincerity and perseverance has brought us to the level of addressing you on an important day. This is the lesson we have to take from our experience’, Murali explained.

Explaining the attitude generated by RTI Act, he said that the moment he became first State Information Commissioner, first thing he did was to surrender subsidy on Gas cylinder, because he apprehended a possible RTI question on this aspect, which is the revolutionary change the RTI has brought in the mindset of public officials, a positive outcome of the transparency law.

Former Central Information Commissioner and dean of Law Professor Madabhushi Sridhar said if the right to information is not used, people will lose it and similarly if the freedom of speech and expressing should be used by the people profusely to protect that right, the constitution and democracy. He said the law school has 25 faculty members and 55 students in its first batch and almost all the students participated in both essay and essay writing.

Prof Yajulu Meduri, Vice Chancellor welcomed the students to participate in RTI activity while explaining the need for commitment to sincere education.  Faculty coordinators of the RTI meet Ms Vipasha Ghangoria, Mandeep Kaur and Aparna coordinated the activity.

Prof. M. Sridhar Acharyulu
Author is Dean, Professor of law at Mahindra University at Hyderabad and former Central Information Commissioner. He published a number books in English and Telugu.

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