Legal Translation Hub Service team Celebrates Constitution Day on November 26, 2015

By Ravi Kumar

12 October 2005 marked the beginning of an era of empowerment of a special kind in India. It was the day on which the Right to Information Act 2005 came into force in India that empowered every citizen of India to question the acts and omissions of public servants and government bodies and take legal course if they are not convinced with the explanations given. In fact, way back in 1975, the Supreme Court of India recognised the right to information to be a fundamental right of every citizen of India under Article 19 of the Constitution of India. This was followed by a series of progressive decisions by the Supreme Court elaborating this right. Yet, realistically, citizens could not really enjoy this right. An archaic colonial law known as the Official Secrets Act 1923, reinforced by a bureaucratic mindset which had been conditioned over decades that it was accountable to no one, ensured that the right to information remained an illusory concept for the people of India. It was as a result of years of campaigning at the national and regional level that the right to information gradually started taking a real form – first through legislation passed by certain states and then by the Centre through the Right to Information Act 2005 (RTI Act).

Since its inception, the RTI has been used by several citizens, workers and activists to the advantage of millions of common masses of India. However, there still exits a huge gap at its implementation stage between government officials and common masses. At one hand, government officials tend to maintain secrecy of information and try their level best not to disclose the right information to general public as they risk losing their faces on account of inefficiency at work, corruption and overspending of tax payers money and many officials have learnt the fine art of how to confuse the applicant, provide misleading information or claim that the requisite information is exempt from the RTI. On the other hand, common citizens awakened by their rights and under the influence of internet, mobile phone and social media boom continue to empower themselves through increased connectivity among themselves, and continuous use of RTI, the tool that helps in maintaining check on the government officials.

With above in mind, Legal Translation Hub conducted a virtual seminar on November 26, 2015 to celebrate the constitution day in India. More than 100 participants presented their talk on the following themes:

  1. Training and generation of awareness about the Act
  2. change in the mindset of the ‘information-holders’
  3. Increased suo moto disclosure of information
  4. Resources to respond to information requests in a timely fashion
  5. Strict action for violation of the provisions of the Act
  6. Protection for ‘whistleblowers’
  7. Efficiency and effectiveness of the appellate mechanisms provided under the Act
  8. RTI Act 2005 and deepening of Democracy
  9. RTI Act 2005 and role of Media
  10. RTI Act 2005 and Role of Legal translators and Interpreters
  11.  RTI Act 2005 and disparity in the society