2010, April 27
Right To Information Act 2009
M S Siddiqui
A citizen of a free and democratic country has the right to have access to information and know everything happening around him. It is a fundamental right of every citizen as enshrined in the UN resolution in its very first session in 1946, stating that 'Freedom of information is a fundamental human right.'
It is interesting to note that the right to information laws existed about 200 years before the UN resolution was adopted. Sweden passed its Freedom of the Press Act in 1766.
Access to information is a basic democratic right. The access to information or freedom of expression is the precondition to fulfillment of all other rights in a democratic society.
The developing countries are lagging behind in this respect. There is pressure from media and civil society groups, both domestic and international, for greater access to government information. International bodies, donors such as World Bank, International Monetary Fund etc. are promoting such laws in developing countries and have drafted guidelines or model legislation to promote freedom of information. This is an effort on their part to increase government transparency and reduce corruption. Transparency challenges corruption and creates opportunities for the poor and neglected people.
The International Convention on Civil & Political Rights (ICCPR) adopted and opened for signature, ratification and accession by UN General Assembly resolution 2200A (XXI) of 16 December 1966 and became effective on 23rd March 1976, in accordance with Article 49. As per article 19 (2) "Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice." Bangladesh ratified the convention in 2000 and was pledged...