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Access government information, Judge says

Despite the world becoming a global village and information of all kinds accessible from any corner of the world at the finger-tips without cost, information on the governance of governments is yet to readily available for the common man. The governments are said to be for the people, by the people and of the people, but the common is not aware how the government is run, why a decision has been taken and what is the criteria behind it.

Under this scenario, the governments of many countries, including India have thought it rightly to bring forth transparency and accountability in their government’s administration and for this purpose they have brought forth legislation empowering people to obtain information from its offices and departments. In our country, Karnataka is the first state to pass the Right to Information Act 2000 and it is considered one of the best acts in the country. Right to information, considered by the judicial bodies as a part of the Constitutional right, is a vital act to make democracy successful. “Our act does not end by just electing our representatives. But, we should have free access to information to know how we are governed and how government decisions are taken and implemented. This is an essential right,” Justice N.Kumar of the Karnataka High Court said in Mysore on September 11 while inaugurating a seminar on Right to Information at the Sarada Vilas educational institutions.

“The first case in this connection related to the Maneka Gandhi in which the issue of freedom of speech and expression, a federal right, figured. Right to information is implicit in that right,” he said also referring to the first case relating right to information in 1981 concerning the transfer of a judge. The Supreme Court in this case wanted the reasons for transfer of a judge and affirmed the right to be informed.

One of the recent developments in this direction is the Election Commission seeking information from all those candidates who contested the last elections and this information is available to any one today. On this information available, any voter can assess what his representative is worth and to what extent he has progressed after five years. Such important information, vital for democracy, will bring forth transparency, accountability and openness and also improve the quality of life of the common man, Justice Kumar said calling upon people to make use of this right to make democracy vibrant.

Organized in association with the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), New Delhi, and CREAT, Bangalore, College Principal S.Narayana Rao presided over the inauguration. Senior advocate M.A.Sampathiyengar, Principal Prof.K.V. Madhusudhan and Journalist G.Satyanarayana were present.

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