In 2005 the Right to Information Act was brought into force across India. Government Officials had 120 days from the commencement of the Act to make information public on the roles and duties of all their employees. Seeing an opportunity to encourage transparency at a governmental level, Global Concerns India Director Brinda Adige offered training sessions to local government authorities, in Karnataka state, but they all declined.
120 days passed, and the information was not made public. So Brinda began bringing complaints against all district officers. Due to the huge number of complaints to be heard, the Court of Bangalore was moved to the districts. The Court issued an order to the district officers to release all files in two months. As a consequence, the district officers asked Brinda to provide them with training on making their information public, and their files are finally being released.
Global Concerns also assists local villagers in Karnataka state, in using the Right to Information Act to hold their local government officials to account on issues of public spending and corruption. This has formed an integral part of our Women’s Transformative Leadership Project, which was funded from 2010-2012 by the Scottish Government’s International Development Fund.
Local villagers, many of whom are illiterate, have difficulty making complaints against government officials. They are frequently not taken seriously, or told to return another day. Making full use of the Right to Information Act, Global Concerns India also works with youths from ASTRA (Association for Social Transparancy, Rights and Action), a non-profit organisation working in Karnataka to fight corruption. Together, ASTRA and GCI set up the ‘Citizen’s Desk’. The youths sit outside government offices, helping illiterate people to make applications under the Act. Under the Right to Information Act, the government officials have 30 days to provide the information, or, in cases concerning life and liberty, 48 hours.
See our case studies page for details of successful outcomes based on Right to Information requests.