Yet the RTI Act is hardly known for being put to use in significant numbers. It has so far worked mainly with the marginalised and disadvantaged communities because of the help of NGOs and activists. The educated and the middle classes are yet to be fired by the powerful reach of the law.
Unfortunately, citizens are yet to rise to the occasion and play a meaningful role to take the law forward. Demands for information are yet to pour into government offices in large numbers to test the system.
The Bangladesh RTI Act is similarly geared towards changing the culture of secretive governance inherited from colonial times. The goal is to replace it with more open, responsive, law-based and citizen-friendly rule.
A common reaction of most people about the RTI Act is a lack of trust in its efficacy. It is this general lack of faith in the willingness of public officials to break away from the age-old culture of official secrecy...
Afrequently asked question about RTI law relates to the meaning of the term “authority”. As the Act empowers citizens to query public authorities on matters that concern or aggrieve them, there is an obvious need to understand the concept of authority under the Act.
When people, even the poorest of the poor, experience that they have a legal right to ask for and get information, or at least a response, from powerful civil servants whose shadows they would not dare to cross in the past, it generates a sense of empowerment and a feeling that they are much less unequal and oppressed than they thought.
In last month's column, we said that a key reason for the tardy progress of the Right to Information Act (RTI) in the country is general disbelief that the age-old practice of official secrecy in the work of public authorities will change just because there is a new law that seeks to end it.
The Right to Information Act (RTI), one of the most important laws of Bangladesh that came into force on July 1, 2009, is perhaps also the country's least known. Many see it as the most revolutionary law adopted by the Bangladesh Parliament.