Staff Reporter

`It is a powerful tool in the hands of the media'

`The Act will give a new impetus to investigative journalism' English and Kannada versions of the text of the Act released

BANGALORE: Union Minister of State for Planning M.V. Rajasekharan on Saturday said that the Right to Information Act played an important role in combating corruption and helped in fostering a transparent, democratic and pro-people environment.

Inaugurating a media workshop on "Right to Information" organised by the Press Information Bureau here, he said the Act was a powerful tool in the hands of the media.

The very notion of right to information and related legislation had forced many countries to amend their policies.

Impetus

The Act would give a new impetus to investigative journalism as experience had shown that social groups, anti-corruption agencies, mediapersons and social activists could use the law to expose corruption, he said.

Tracing the history of the Act, he said "jan sunwais" (people's hearings) in villages organised by the Rajasthan-based voluntary organisation Mazdoor Kisan Shakthi Sanghatana for asserting the people's right to information inspired the Union Government to bring in the law with a wider perspective. However, Karnataka took a major step in introducing the Karnataka Right to Information Act in December 2000. The State had posted the details of the Act on its Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Department's website and made efforts to draw public attention to it, he added.

He said though the State Government's record appeared "very good on paper" he was disappointed to find out during his visits to rural areas that people were not utilising the legal tool as it should have been. A study conducted by the World Bank, Public Affairs Centre and Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative had revealed that the implementation of the Act was "poor" and "information was provided after considerable delay" in the State, he added.

Releasing the English and Kannada versions of the text of the Act, Chief Information Commissioner of the State K.K. Misra spoke about the objective roles of the media and public in drawing benefits from the Act in the interests of democracy and development activities.

Regional Director of the Directorate of Audio Visual Publicity A.P. Frank Noronha spoke on the importance of the Act in maintaining accountability and containing corruption in administration.

Archana Datta, Additional Principal Information Officer, PIB, who welcomed the gathering, highlighted the objectives of the workshop.

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