Right2Information

Right to Information – Master key to good governance

the Information Commission should be entrusted with the authority and responsibility of monitoring the implementation of the RTI Act in all public authorities.

Posted by rtiact2005 on June 11, 2006

the Information Commission should be entrusted with the authority and responsibility of monitoring the implementation of the RTI Act in all public authorities.

Reforms panel brings minuses of Official Secrets Act
Saturday June 10 2006 00:00 IST
PTI

http://www.newindpress.com/Newsitems.asp?ID=IEH20060609115336&Title=Top+Stories&Topic=0&

NEW DELHI: Seeking to make government’s functioning more transparent and people-friendly, the Administrative Reforms Commission on Friday recommended scrapping of the archaic Official Secrets Act (OSA) and inclusion of some of its safeguards in the National Security Act.

It advocated a slew of measures for ‘‘effective implementation’’ of the Right to Information Act at all levels including the judiciary and the legislature and asked the government to come out with ‘‘clear and unambiguous guidelines’’ to determine which non-governmental organisations would come under the RTI Act.

In its first report on ‘Right to information – master key to good governance’, submitted to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the commission wanted the OSA of 1923 be repealed as ‘‘in its current form it is incongruous with the regime of transparency in a democratic society’’. The report submitted by commission’s chairman Veerappa Moily said suitable safeguards to protect the security of the state must be incorporated in the National Security Act (NSA).

Emerging from a 40-minute meeting with the Prime Minister, at which Minister of State for Personnel Suresh Pachauri was also present, Moily said OSA had the shadow of colonial regime. Some of the provisions of the OSA could be incorporated in the NSA, he said.

About his report, he said, ‘‘Whatever recommendations we gave are practicable for implementation’’ and added the Prime Minister was happy and assured him of working out a roadmap for giving effect to them.

The report suggested revamping of the information commissions saying that at least half the members of such commissions be drawn from non-civil service background so that they represent the rich variety in society.

Observing that involvement of bureaucracy in the commission would not serve the purpose, Moily said its composition should have at least 50 per cent from non-civil service.

The report suggested NGOs be also brought under the ambit of the Right to Information Act but said clear and unambiguous guidelines needed to be evolved to determine which NGOs would come under it.

Opining that complete reorganisation of public records was a pre-condition for effective implementation of the Right to Information Act, the Reforms Commission also called for setting up a public records office in each state as a repository of expertise to monitor, supervise, control and inspect all public records.

One per cent of the funds of all flagship programmes of the centre should be earmarked for five years for updating all records and building necessary infrastructure, it said.

The report said the information commission should be ‘‘entrusted with the authority and responsibility of monitoring the implementation of the Right to Information Act in all public authorities’’.

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