Right2Information

Right to Information – Master key to good governance

Activists protest government move to tame RTI

Posted by rtiact2005 on July 21, 2006

Activists protest government move to tame RTI

 

http://www.ndtv.com/template/template.asp?template=RTI&slug=Activists+protest+govt+move+to+tame+RTI&id=19862&callid=0&category=National

 

Sidharth Pandey, Rahul Srivastava

Watch story http://www.ndtv.com/ndtvvideo/default.asp?id=5474

Thursday, July 20, 2006 (New Delhi):

The UPA government has decided to introduce crucial amendments to the RTI act, which critics say will weaken the impact of the Act.

The Union Cabinet on Thursday approved an amendment to the RTI Act, wherein it decided to exempt file notings of officials from the Act.

RTI activists had been protesting the exclusion of file notings, as these were critical in forming policy and taking decisions, which affect the lives of people.

In response to the decision, activist Aruna Roy, the woman who set off the Right to Information movement, has said that it is simply not acceptable and that the campaigners doubt the intent of the government.

She added that she would carry the fight forward to implement the Act in the right sense with the support of common man.

“We got the Act, and we will make sure that the government implements this,” she said, while adding that the amendments effectively destroy the Act.

If Parliament passes the amendments, then file notings or comments by government officers on the files will not be revealed and only notings on social projects will be made public.

The amendments may also reduce the power of the law to hold several government departments accountable, thereby weakening the law.

The amendments will affect people in their daily life in terms of issues regarding their passports, appointments in UPSC jobs and getting cabinet papers, promotions and government contracts.

Unclear motives

The cabinet decision comes at the end of a successful nation wide RTI campaign during which 18,000 applications were filed.

In Chennai, several dozen people turned out on Thursday at a special help centre set up by the RTI campaigners to file RTIs that could change if the law is weakened.

The government has argued that the amendments are necessary to end the ambiguities, but only when more details are available will it be clear whether the amendments end ambiguities or curtail the Act.

Moreover, the amendments have also upset the Central Information Commission.

“Removing file notings will take the life out of the law. I hope that the government steps in or Sonia Gandhi steps in to stop such a move,” said OP Kejriwal, Central Information Commissioner.

The RTI has helped many Indians get their due, and thus, it is difficult to understand why the government would want to dilute this law. Perhaps, the reason is that the law worked too well.

Sixth Pay Commission

The Cabinet also cleared the setting up of the Sixth Pay Commission, which will pave the way for new salaries for over 55 lakh central government employees.

The commission has been given a time period of 18 months to submit its report.

Central government employees had threatened to go on a nationwide strike from August 10 if the commission was not set up.

However, BJP ruled states of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh have opposed the setting up of the commission.

Other crucial proposals cleared by the Cabinet are the wildlife amendment bill for a tiger task force with the proposal to set up a Wildlife Crime Bureau and more power for wildlife officials.

 

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