NMIMS Kirit P. Mehta School of Law had the privilege to host Mr Shailesh Gandhi, who is known for his inspiring work and activism on the Right to Information. Students were privy to an insightful lecture about Right to Information in Anhad’s 26th session on 9th August 2019. Mr Gandhi began the lecture by explaining the concept of ‘Lokshahi’: where each individual has a right by birth to feel like the ‘Badshah’ and ‘Begum’ of the country. While explained bureaucracy and democracy, Mr Gandhi correctly pointed out the causes of inefficiency of the government, citing the frustration of citizens over something as minor as a change in address in a ration card.
While explaining Freedom of Speech under Article 19(1)(a) enshrined in the Constitution of India, he gave a brief background on how the RTI movement was introduced in India. Mr Gandhi shared the inspiring story of Aruna Roy, who pioneered the concept of RTI by introducing it in a small village in Rajasthan, and led a protest against the government when it denied providing information on the funds allocated for the people’s welfare. She believed that if the money is being paid by her, then she is entitled to know how it is being spent.
Mr Gandhi explained the basic features of the RTI Act, stating that one should know the difference between interrogation and acquiring information. He provided us with insight into the constitutional aspect of article 19, stressing on the Right to Know.
Towards the end, Mr Gandhi acknowledged the amendment of the RTI Act; reacting to it negatively, addressing that this move appears to gain control over the information commission and make them beholden to the government. The lecture concluded with a powerful quote from Mr Shailesh Gandhi: “मेरा भारत महान नहीं है, पर यह दोष मेरा है।”