The RTI ACT 2005, which aims at promoting accountability and transparency in the working of every public authority has turn out to be a norm with secrecy as exception stated State Chief Information Commissioner Adv. Vishwas R. Satarkar while speaking as the Chief guest on the occasion of RTI Day celebration organized by Goa State Information Commission, Goa in collaboration with Dempo Charities Trust’s S.S.Dempo College of Commerce and Economics, Cujira, held at Bambolim today.
Reminiscing the history, Adv.Vishwas R. Satarkar informed that as per the Official Secrets Act of 1923 passed during the British colonial period in India, Secrecy was considered as the norm.Transparency and accountability were generally lacking during the British colonial period in India. The sustained public pressure and the efforts of social activists like Anna Hazare eventually led to the passage of the Right to Information Act 2005. He further affirmed that RTI Act is a powerful tool that has enabled citizens to gain access for information and actively engage in the democratic process, and it has indeed made accountability and transparency the norm in governance.
Shri. Sanjay N. Dhavalikar, State Information Commissioner who was also present as the guest speaker informed that RTI Act is applicable to all central and state government departments, Ministries, and public offices besides to government-funded organizations, public sector undertakings, and bodies substantially financed by the government. Shri Dhavlikar also explained the procedure to seek Right to information. Every Department has Public Information Officer (PIO) that responds to RTI requests. Citizens have the right to file first appeal if they are not satisfied with the information provided by the PIO or if they are not provided the information within the stipulated period of 30 days, he informed.
While the RTI Act promotes transparency, Shri Dhavlikar also informed that it also recognizes that certain information needs to be protected, such as national security or personal privacy. The act provides for specific exemptions that allow certain types of information to be withheld by public authorities.
Dr Manoj Kamat, Principal, S.S.Dempo College of Commerce and Economics also spoke on the occasion .Students of V.M Salgaocar Law College Miramar presented street play to create awareness about Right to Information Act.