Level RTI: Rajasthan
Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS) spearheaded the right to information
movement in Rajasthan - and subsequently, throughout India. MKSS
famously used the right to information as tool to draw attention
to the underpayment of daily wage earners and farmers on government
projects, and more generally, to expose corruption in government
expenditure. Initially, MKSS lobbied government to obtain information
such as muster rolls (employment and payment records) and bills
and vouchers relating to purchase and transportation of materials.
This information was then crosschecked at Jan
Sunwais (public hearings) against actual testimonies of workers.
The public hearings were incredibly successful in drawing attention
to corruption and exposing leakages in the system. They were particularly
significant because of their use of hard documentary evidence to
support the claims of villagers.
time, the media and the government paid increasing attention to
the results of the Jan Sunwais. Consequently, greater attention
was focused on the importance of the right to information as a means
for increasing transparency and accountability, as well as empowering
poor people. Although MKSS was able to obtain some information from
Government during the early 1990s, it was not easy. The difficulties
experienced by MKSS in trying to access information reinforced the
importance of a comprehensive right to information law for Rajasthan.
5 April 1995, the Chief Minister of Rajasthan announced in the Legislative
Assembly that his Government would be the first in the country to
provide access to information to citizens on all local developmental
works. However, no action was taken for months. Exactly a year later
on 6 April 1996, MKSS started an indefinite Dharna (protest demonstration)
in Bewar town. Their immediate demand was that the State Government
pass Executive Orders to provide a limited right to information
in relation to local development expenditure. The government responded
by issuing Orders to inspect relevant documents on payment of fees.
However, the Order was rejected by civil society as ineffective
because it did not allow taking photocopies of documents.
6 May 1996, one month later, the Dharna was extended to Jaipur,
the state capital. The Dharna was strongly supported by the people
of the State. On 14 May 1996, the Government responded, announcing
the establishment of a committee to look into the practical aspects
of implementing right to information within two months. In response,
MKSS called off the Dharna. Unfortunately, Government interest again
lapsed, such that in May 1997 another series of Dharnas commenced,
which continued for 52 long days. At the end of this time, the Government
announced that the Government had already notified the right to
receive photocopies relating to local level government functions
six months earlier! Civil society was taken by surprise - through
all their discussions with Government it was the first time they
had been told about the order providing access to information to
1998, during the State elections the Opposition Party promised in
its election manifesto to enact a law on right to information if
it came to power. Following their election, the Party appointed
a committee of bureaucrats, headed by Mr P.N. Bhandari, a Secretary
of the Rajasthan Government, to draft a bill on the right to information.
As the Committee was comprised only bureaucrats, stong objections
were raised by civil society organisations, following which the
members of MKSS and National Campaign for Peoples Right to Information
were invited to assist in drafting the bill.
and NCPRI conducted a host of consultations in each divisional headquarters
of the State. Drawing on the input from these consultations, a draft
civil society Right to Information Bill was prepared, which was
then submitted to the Committee. The Committee drew on the citizens
draft Bill for its recommendations, but refused to accept the Bill
Right to Information Act 2000 was eventually passed on 11 May
2000, but only came into force on 26 January 2001 - after the rules
were framed. The Act in its final form retained many of the suggestions
of the RTI movement, but diluted others. Activists in the state
have stated that it is stronger that some state Acts, like Tamil
Nadu, but lags behind those of Goa, Karnataka and Delhi.
any case, in May 2005, the national Right
to Information Act 2005 was passed by Parliament. The RTI Act
2005 received Presidential assent on 15 June and came fully into
force on 12 October 2005. (For more information on the passage of
the Act and implementation at the national level, click here.)
The RTI Act 2005 covers all Central, State and local government
bodies and will apply to public authorities in Rajasthan. The Government
has issued the Rajasthan
Right to Information Rules 2005.
is not clear at this time whether the Rajasthan RTI Act will be
repealed to make way for the national RTI Act.
a list of Public Information Officers and Appellate Authorities
designated by the State Government, click here.
of Fee & Costs
against receipt/ demand draft/bank cheque
2 per page
and printed form
Price so fixed or Rs 2 per page photocopy
Inspection of records
Free for first hour, Rs 5 for each 15 minutes
or a fraction thereof
Second Appeals and complaints against non-disclosure of information
may be filed with the Rajasthan State Information Commission.
Mr. M. D. Kaurani
State Chief Information Commissioner
State Information Commission
H.C.M Rajasthan State Instititute of Public Administration (O.T.S)
Jawaharlal Nehru Marg,
Off: 0141-2700645 / 2702342
Activities & Advocacy
Shakti Sangathan (MKSS) is a workers and farmers solidarity
group, which is dedicated to ensuring fair working conditions
and daily wages for daily wage earners and farmers. MKSS has
famously used the method of Jan
Sunwai (public hearing) to raise awareness of the practical
value of the right to information for poor people. MKSS has
been a leader in the national campaign for right to information
and continues to use the right to information to empower local
people to root out corruption and hold their government representatives
For further information:
Contact MKSS at Village Devdungri Post Barar, District Rajsamand-313341,
Rajasthan, Tel: 91-2909-243254. Tele Fax: 91-2909-250180. Mobile:
09414007305. E-Mail: email@example.com,
- CHRI (2005) Forwarding Information Requests and
Appeals: A Step by Step Guide for Assistant Public Information
Officers under the Right to Information Act 2005, prepared by
Mr Venkatesh Nayak.
- CHRI (2005) Processing Information Requests:
A Step by Step Guide for Assistant Public Information Officers
under the Right to Information Act 2005, prepared by Mr Venkatesh
- For CHRI's posters on RTI click here.
- Dinesh Gehlot (2004) A
Critique of the Rajasthan Right to Information Act 2001, Rajasthan
Patrika, 5 August (Hindi).
- Dinesh Sharma (2004) Rajasthan's
desert Robin Hoods make corrupt repay victims, IANS,
- Nistulla Hebbar (2004) Paper
Tiger Act Awaits Action, 27 March, Times of India.
- Rama Lakshmi (2004) Opening Files, Indians Find
Scams Freedom of Information Laws Slowly Change a Culture of
Secrecy, 9 March, The Washington Post.
- Richard Calland (2004) Opening Up Rural India,
20 February, Mail & Guardian Newspaper (South Africa).
- Neelabh Mishra, (2003) People's
right to Information Movement: Lessons from Rajasthan, Discussion
Paper Series - 4, Human Development Resource Center, UNDP,
- Aruna Roy, Nikhil Dey, The
Right to Information: Facilitating People's Participation and
- Aruna Roy, (2001), Chasing
a Right, 13 March - 13 April, India server.com
- Harsh Mander, Abha Singhal Joshi, (1999) The
Movement for Right to Information in India People's Power for
the Control of Corruption, CHRI.
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