Discuss the provisions of section 8(1) of Right to Information Act and various issues thereof. Do you agree with the view that RTI in defence sector would improve transparency? Give arguments.
Right to Information act empower citizen by providing information and therefore keeping a check on arbitrariness and corruption in governance.
Section 8(1) of RTI act provides for the exemption from disclosure if, information affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, security, Strategic Scientific Economic interest of the state, relationship with foreign States or lead to incitement of an offence or if the information is forbidden by the court or tribunal.
However, the provisions of Section 8 are often misused to deny information specifically in defense sector in general and procurements in particular.
The issue is that due to lack of accountability there is always delay. Usually, the Request for Proposal(RFP) is modified in a later stage without any substantial reason which extends the deadline of the project.
Recently CIC advised ministry of defense to ensure transparency and accountability in defense equipment procurement using RTI Act.
Section 4 of Right to Information Act provides for proactive disclosure so that use of RTI to seek information can be minimized. Procurement system can be made more transparent by making such suo motto disclosure, and better management of request under RTI act (one CPIO for each department to ensure roles clarity). Along with that decision taken in defense acquisition council meeting, award of contract, reasons for modifications in contract and performance of offset contract should
be proactively disclosed.
The prompt disclosure of information will help in better decision making and better accountability in the system this will also, academic research in defense studies and will bring down the use of RTI to get information.
Transparency & accountability is the founding stone of the robust democracy. Public institutions should come forward & disclose information in the larger interest. The denial of information should be used in rare circumstances. This will lead to responsible decision making in the system.