Life And Death In The Time Of RTI
On an average between 7-8 lakh RTI applications are filed in Maharashtra every year. Maharashtra also has the dubious distinction of reporting the most number of attacks on people who use the RTI Act to demand information from government agencies as a matter of right. More than 75 instances of attacks, assaults and harassment or threatening of RTI activists have been reported by the media since October 2005. At least 16 RTI activists have been killed till date.
While the application fee is INR 10 and photocopying charges are INR 2 per page, these activists paid the price of transparency with their lives. How did the criminal justice system in Maharashtra react to these killings? Were the culprits punished? How long and difficult was the wait for justice for the bereaved families?
Two seasoned journalists investigated the life and work of 13 RTI activists in Maharashtra and the aftermath of their killings. Their report card reveals the dismal state of affairs in what is adjudged the second best governed State in India as per Central Government’s Good Governance Index-2019. Effective laws and systems are urgently required to prevent and punish attacks on RTI activists many of whom are essentially whistleblowers. This will ensure practical realisation of the national motto- satyameva jayate (truth alone shall triumph).