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INDIA STRENGTHENS PUBLIC'S RIGHT TO KNOW

India has enacted a new access to information law that will make it easier for citizens to obtain government information, reports the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ). Passed on 12 May 2005, the Right to Information Act replaces an earlier law that had been criticised by civil society activists for being weak.

The Act legitimises citizens' right to information and the duty of the government to provide it. It establishes that the government must be given the resources to provide information requested by the public and that information should be inexpensive to obtain.

Most importantly, it contains serious penalties for non-compliance and provides for an independent appeals procedure in case of non-compliance or disputes. The new law is unique in that the implementation will be overseen by a body whose composition is not confined to civil servants.

The passing of the Right to Information Act is largely due to successful campaigning efforts by Indian civil society activists who held the ruling Congress Party to its election promise of strengthening India's access to information law.

The text of the Act can be viewed here: http://freedominfo.org/news/india/20050516/THE_RIGHT_TO_INFORMATION_ACT_2005-Final.pdf

Visit these links:

- IFJ: http://www.ifj-asia.org/page/india050513.html
- Analysis of the Right to Information Act: http://freedominfo.org/news.htm
- India's Remarkable Right to Information Movement: http://www.freedominfo.org/case/mkss/mkss.htm
- ARTICLE 19 Model Access to Information Law: http://www.idlo.int/texts/IDLO/mis7007.pdf
- Global Survey of Access to Information Laws: http://www.freedominfo.org/survey.htm
- Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative: http://www.humanrightsinitiative.org/programs/ai/rti/india/india.htm

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