A young mind is full of questions, driven with a passion to change the world, and the Right to information Act or RTI is the perfect tool for them.
Right to Information Act, from its very inception, aimed at initiating change. You ask for ‘it’ and you get ‘it’. This is the basic premise of RTI. It ensures a smooth and immediate, ‘hassle free’ flow of information.
However in Delhi University atleast, the procedure for filing an RTI is far from hassle free. As veteran RTI activist and co-ordinator of the Youth Task Force RTI- Josh4India, Aditya Prasad comments, “At times, I feel RTI is losing its charm because the authorities are not serious in implementing it and the public is not too eager to use it. The way the Commission functions and Appellate Authorities act the fight seems endless. They are making it difficult for the common man to use his right.”
In 2007, Aditya Prasad, a student of Delhi University, challenged the transparency of the newly formed internal assessment system at DU. He filed RTI applications to get details about the internal assessment procedures followed by various colleges and universities. Universities like Indraprastha and Jamia Milia provided him with satisfactory response.
However DU and its colleges refused to cooperate. “Some colleges had the audacity to say that they were not under the RTI act. DU’s approach is vague and they have not uploaded any manual as well. They call themselves a university but every college has its own rules and regulations for giving out information.” says Aditya.
All this added up to DU’s violation of section 4 under the RTI act.
Aditya says “Under one of the provisions of Section 4 all public authorities are supposed to maintain all their records duly catalogued and indexed in a manner that facilitates the Right to Information.”
After a year full of complications, in 2008, Central Information Commission (CIC) hauled up DU and its affiliated colleges for not implementing section 4 of the Right to Information Act (RTI).
A deadline of 14th November 2008 was assigned to DU to update all of its online manuals, publish copies for public reference and make sure that all the colleges do the same by November 14.
“Since then, till now, we have had no concrete change. In January2007, I wrote several applications for non compliance of the CIC orders but to no avail” says Aditya.
In his crusade for the RTI he has been threatened to the extent of failing him in his University examinations. But, that till now, hasn’t deterred him from taking these steps.
On June 7th of this year CIC along with Delhi University conducted a seminar for the Principals of various Delhi University colleges regarding the necessary implementation of the RTI act.
As we keep our fingers crossed, Aditya says, “Hope it works this time!”