Constitutional Basis of RTI : RTI in Indian Constitution

Constitutional Basis of RTI : RTI in Indian ConstitutionThough there is no direct provision for RTI  (Right to Information) in the Constitution of India, there is strong constitutional basis of RTI. Honorable Supreme Court of India has interpreted various articles of constitution that Right to Information is inherent in constitution of India. I have provided in this article various judicial interpretation that shows inherent RTI in Indian Constitution.

Constitutional Basis of RTI : RTI in Indian Constitution

There is strong constitutional basis of RTI in India i.e. there is inherent RTI in Indian Constitution. Let me provide you judicial interpretation of various provisions of constitution.

Preamble

As the preamble describes, one of the significant objectives of Indian Constitution is to secure liberty of thought and expressions to the citizens of India. The liberty of thought and expressions can never be secured until and unless the citizens have right to information.

Article 14

This article guarantees right to equal protection of the laws and the right to equality before the law, With reference to this Article, if government officials have information, it must be provided to other citizen also to assure equality among citizens. Delegation of discretionary powers to government officials in furnishing information creates a danger of discrimination, which is subversive to the Equality Doctrine enshrined in Article 14 of the Constitution. Thus, under Article 14, every citizen must have equal right to information.

Article 19 (1) (a)

This provision guarantees the fundamental right to free speech and expression, which includes within it the right to access information. The pre -requisite for enjoying this right is knowledge and information. Thus the right to information becomes a constitutional right as the right to free speech also guarantees right to receive and collect and information.

Article 21

This article talks about right to life and personal liberty, which includes the right to know about things that affect our lives. The expression ―life and personal liberty ―is a broad term, which includes within itself variety of rights and attributes. The Supreme Court read into this article as a broad right to include right to know within its purview. The apex court held that right to know is a necessary ingredient of participatory democracy. It is wide enough to expand to a full range of rights including the right to hold a particular opinion and the right to sustain and nurture that opinion. It confers on all persons a right to know which includes right to information.

Article 32

This article guarantees a right to constitutional remedies on the situation of a violation of the fundamental right of any citizen. Thus, right to information must have been guaranteed to the citizens.

Article 39(1) (b) &(C)

This provides for adequate means of livelihood, equitable distribution of material resources of the community, to check concentration of the wealth and means of production. All these rights would be remained unfulfilled if right to information is not guaranteed ahead of these rights.

Article 51A

The constitution also imposes certain duties upon the citizens under Article 51A. A fully informed citizen is better equipped for the performance of these duties.

Beside aforementioned articles, the other articles that give right to information under Indian constitution are Articles 311(2) and 22(1). Article 311(2) provides for a govt. servant to know why he is being dismissed or removed or being demoted and representation can be made against the order. By way of Article 22(1) a person can know the grounds for his detention. In Essar Oil Ltd vs. Halar Utkarsha Samiti, the SC held that right to information emerges from right to personal liberty guaranteed by article 21 of constitution.

The above mentioned interpretation clearly shows the strong constitutional basis of RTI in India, and proves inherent RTI in Indian Constitution.

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