Right to Information – Master key to good governance

PMO defends RTI Act exemptions

Posted by rtiact2005 on July 27, 2006

PMO defends RTI Act exemptions





NEW DELHI: The UPA regime went into a direct confrontation with civil society activists with the PMO on Wednesday rebutting their charge that the government ‘killed the Right to Information Act’ by allowing a large list of exemptions from public disclosure.

In a strongly-worded statement, the PMO said the “criticism is largely misplaced since it is based on an incomplete knowledge of facts”. Incidentally, the objections were raised by former NAC member Aruna Roy, who had played a key role in framing the draft Act.

“While it is true that the RTI Act did not include any provision for full disclosure of ‘file notings’ by officials, and inspite of a view expressed against such disclosure by various experts and officials, the UPA government has remained committed to the principles of greater transparency and accountability in the public decision-making process.

In view of this firm belief, the Union Cabinet had in fact approved last week an amendment to section 2 (i) (a) of the Act that specifically provides that file notings of all plans, schemes and programmes of the government that relate to development and social issues shall be disclosed,” the PMO said.

The PMO also claimed that disclosure of file notings on the most important and vast bulk of government activities was still possible. “This was not possible before. It is thus not a case of retrogression. This is a positive step forward.

It may be clarified that only a small portion of file notings now remain exempted from disclosure. This is related to subjects that are already exempted under sub-Section (1) of Section 8 of the Act and to personnel-related matters like examination, assessment and evaluation for recruitment, disciplinary proceedings, etc.” the statement said.

Civil society activists have of late been expressing their unhappiness over the Manmohan Singh regime’s governance agenda. They have also been quite critical of the way the government handled the Narmada controversy. The Congress, which initially appeared to be backing Medha Patkar and her cause, stepped back when its state unit in Gujarat revolted against the ‘soft’ approach towards the activist groups.

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