The Right To Information is derived from our fundamental right of expression under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India. This has been clearly stated by various Supreme Court judgments, since 1975. We accept that the freedom of the press is an essential element for a democracy to function. It is worthwhile to understand the underlying assumption in this well entrenched belief. Why is the freedom of the media considered as one of the essential features for a democracy?
Democracy revolves around the basic idea of Citizens as being at the center of governance and rule of the people. We need to define the importance of the concept of freedom of the press from this fundamental premise. It is obvious that the main reason for a free press is to ensure that Citizens are informed. This being one of the main reasons for the primacy given to the freedom of the press, it clearly flows from this that the Citizens Right To Know is paramount. Since the Government is run on behalf of the people, they are the rightful owners who have a right to be informed directly.
Structured as a presentation and workshop, the session will first have a presentation on the RTI and the right to know and will be accompanied by a workshop where all present can learn the basics of drafting a RTI petition.
Shailesh Gandhi is a first-generation entrepreneur and distinguished alumnus awardee of IIT Bombay. He was part of the national right to information (RTI) movement which was involved in drafting the national act on the citizens' right to information. He was convener of the National Campaign for People's Right To Information (NCPRI). The only RTI activist to have been chosen as a Central Information Commissioner, he disposed a record of over 20000 cases, ensuring most cases were decided in less than 90 days. He gave many landmark decisions on RTI, apart from organizing the first digital paper-less office in the commission. He is passionate about pursuing the cause of ensuring a time bound justice delivery system and use of ICT, and improving governance systems apart from conducting workshops and advocating active citizenship.