Friday, October 03, 2008

Rape victim uses RTI to get her case moving

RTI, for all its slowness, and huge backlog, is still proving to be beneficial to common citizens. I had mentioned in a previous post, a phrase that I like to use to for the effects of an RTI application - a lightning torch that exposes sloth and shines the beacon of openness on the red tape present in our Government. This feeling gets reinforced when you read about cases such as this one where a rape victim was running from pillar to post to get her case filed and investigated, and the police was not exactly the picture of cooperation:

Now, Right to Information (RTI) Act has brought justice to a rape victim in Umarpada taluka in south Gujarat. Following a notice by Gujarat Information Commission (GIC) in May, an FIR was finally lodged and action taken against the accused. In its notice, GIC slapped a penalty of Rs 25,000 jointly on two police officers for violating provisions of the Act. This followed an RTI application filed by a 15-year-old rape victim demanding to know why action had not been taken on her complaint.
The girl was raped in February last year but the accused was roaming free and police was refusing to register an FIR. GIC has penalised police sub-inspector and public information officer (PIO) DN Patel and assistant police sub-inspector Chandubhai Chaudhary, the deemed assistant public information officer (APIO) of Mangrol police station in Surat district, Rs 12,500 each.

RTI, in this legal form is a very effective tool. It allows citizens to get information about matters that concern them either personally or affects society, and enables this information not to be hidden unless it can be proved that the information being sought is either for commercial purposes, or affects national security.
There is an ongoing debate about whether the Central Information Commission (CIC), the nodal body appointed to hear RTI cases is actually not working as well as it should; on the other hand, there are numerous cases where RTI ensures that people get beneficial effects. In addition, RTI cells and mobile units that seek to empower people by making them aware of their rights are also on the job.
The writer of this piece still believes that to get rid of corruption, all other instruments that have been tried, whether they be strict laws, exposure, penalties for people caught, etc, all have failed to work; the RTI Act however, by its very nature is meant to get information. This availability of information to the common man is a welcome first step to reduce corruption and inaction in our society.

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 3:42 AM