â€œWhen freedom of expression is put to use by the mass media, it acquires an additional dimension and becomes freedom of information.â€ In the post modern world of technology information plays an important role. From the classified document leak by Julian Assange to the alleged snoop by the US government, information has started to become an powerful tool. So much powerful that it can single handedly topple most powerful democracies.
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Hence it is necessary to regulate such disposition of information. In India, in this regard, The Right to Information Act was enacted on 12th October, 2005. At the rudimentary stage of this legislature, high hopes were attached to it and it was often referred to as anti-corruption tool. Unlike the other common law and non common law legal systems it took lesser time to incorporate and fully implement this right to information. But efficiency does not always bring in comprehensiveness, hence certain loop holes lingered through the Act. What is Right to Information? In modern democracies it is essential for the citizen to be informed about the affairs of the government and its socialist policies. For a healthy democratic system it is essential that the citizenry remains well informed and impregnated with the idea of government being â€œfor the people, by the people and of the peopleâ€. As said by Jeremy Bentham â€œSecrecy, being an instrument of conspiracy, ought never to be the system of a regular governmentâ€. Hence this right is recognised by various governments of the world. In India, this right is considered to be an offshoot of the â€œFreedom of Speech and Expressionâ€ imbibed in Article 19(1) (a) of the Indian Constitution. As Bhagwati, J. observed that â€œthe concept of an open Government is the direct emanation from right to know which seems to be implicit in the right of freedom of speech and expressionâ€. Also the Supreme Court in multiple cases has recognised that freedom of Speech and Expression also includes right to receive and impart information though it needs to be construed with respect to public security. It also applied this doctrine for the public good, making him more than an insignificant spare part, one such example being decriminalise the democratic system of election. The primary reason of recognition of this right was the importance of transparency during governmental transactions and building a sort of fiduciary relationship between the three organs of the state and the people it governs. In the case of Reliance Petrochemical Ltd V. Indian Express Newspapers Bombay (P) Ltd. it was equated to Right to Life mentioned in Article 21 of the Constitution. Hence the stance of Supreme Court reflected the innate character of the Right to Information. It is necessary for the people to acquire information for proper functioning of the State as no democratic government can survive without an empowered citizenry.
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