Indian RTI expert praises Sri Lanka’s law | Daily News

Indian RTI expert praises Sri Lanka’s law

The beauty of Sri Lanka’s Right to Information Act is that it is free, Indian Express Senior Editor Shyamlal Yadav said at a press briefing on Wednesday.

Yadav, a veteran journalist at the Mumbai-based newspaper, said he had filed over 7,000 RTI requests in India since the law went into effect in 2005.

Sri Lanka’s RTI law was came into effect in February of last year. He encouraged the Sri Lankan journalists and citizens to initiate the use of it as much as possible.

Yadav said that in India, the effect of the law was widespread. “It has opened up the mindset of the government machinery,” he said.

At present, according to him, government officials are more wary of what they do in their official capacity.

“Corruption could not be completely wiped away from the government anywhere,” he said, adding, that they were afraid now.

India's law, unlike their counterpart Sri Lanka's, requires the people to pay a fee of Rs.10 as an application fee to request for information from a government body.

Nevertheless, Yadav said that it had emboldened ordinary citizens throughout the country.

According to him, people could leverage the law against obstinate government officials. They could say, ‘I will destroy your career with ten rupees,’ he quipped.

Interestingly, the bulk of Sri Lanka’s RTI requests also come from rural areas such as Matara, Hambantota and Polonnaruwa, according to Sri Lanka's RTI Commission.

Yadav said that journalists have a duty to use the RTI to expose corruption. He has used RTI requests to expose wide-scale government malpractice in India, such as showing how banks used 1 - rupee deposits to help make Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Jan Dhan” bank account scheme look more effective than it actually was.

But he warned that most requests he files are ignored or rejected.

“As you are learning to collect information, the officer on the other side, they are learning to deny the information,” he said. According to him, an informed, active citizenry was the only way to make sure the law works.


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