Right to Information – Master key to good governance

PMO sugarcoats bitter RTI pill

Posted by rtiact2005 on July 27, 2006

PMO sugarcoats bitter RTI pill
Manoj Mitta
[ 27 Jul, 2006 0022hrs ISTTIMES NEWS NETWORK ]


NEW DELHI: Far from admitting that a proposed amendment would reduce access to information, the Prime Minister’s Office claimed on Wednesday that the disclosure of file notings would actually “become possible for the first time.”

In reality, file notings have already been accessible under the existing provisions of the Right to Information Act. And, despite their reservations, bureaucrats have in several cases granted access to file notings.

This is thanks to a decision of the RTI regulator, Central Information Commission, in January ruling that, subject to restrictions, “a citizen has the right to seek information contained in file notings.”

Though there is no express provision on file notings, the CIC ordered their disclosure on the basis of a “combined reading” of the provisions of the RTI Act, which provided “access to a file of which the file notings are an integral part.”

Given the manner in which records are kept by authorities, the CIC said “no file would be complete without note sheets having file notings.”

Holding that “file notings are not, as a matter of law, exempt from disclosure,” the CIC said that if Parliament intended to do so, it would have specifically excluded file notings while defining “file” or “record” in the RTI Act.

It was to undo this liberal interpretation of the RTI Act that the Cabinet recently decided to introduce an amendment stipulating that file notings could be disclosed only on “development and social issues.”

The attempt to restrict access to notings is being opposed vehemently by activists. The PMO sought to allay apprehensions by issuing a clarification that took liberties with facts.

In an obvious bid to sugarcoat the proposed amendment to the RTI Act, the PMO suppressed the fact that file notings were already being disclosed to citizens on account of the CIC’s ruling.


2 Responses to “PMO sugarcoats bitter RTI pill”

  1. P.K. Aditya, Chandigarh said


    That citizens need the January 31, 2006 decision of the CIC, to seek information under RTI Act, is the strangest of logic. As mentioned in the Pyare Lal decision of July 13, 2006, by the CIC, the government has so far ignored all communications from the same CIC. If that is the route one has to adopt to get information from government files, God save this country from our Babus’ logic.

    That the government is intending to enable disclosure of file notings on ‘development and social issues’ is a pittance. The same Babus will now be deciding what are these ‘development and social issues’ and surely will exclude all that is worth anything.

    It is not few issues, including notings thereupon, that should be decided to be disclosed. The government should list what it does not wish to be disclosed, such as contained in section 8 of the Act, and leave all the rest to be disclosed. Leaving discretion to the Babus is dangerous. What is being called ‘suger-coating’ is too thin and perhaps as bitter as what was intended to be covered.

    How does the government explain how its DOPT has acted without any force of law? Why does not it undo the illegal alteration in definition of ‘information’ forthwith, to instill confidence in the mind of the public.

    P.K. Aditya

  2. ramesh wasudeo said

    either babus are dumb or too clever in drafting bills. in most cases, the provisions of any govt communications are vague taht require interpretation. such lapses – deliberate or purposeful help bureaucracy to interpret them as they like.

    PMO wants to remove examination of files all to gather as file notings are integral to files and in many times on individual pages contained in file.

    what is the fear?, what is compulsion? why govt is seeking to hide decision making process? and say bye bye to transparency, promoting good governance and create informed citizenry taht is promised in the preamble to the act.

    they should in that case, re write the preambleof the act.


    again they havefailed to define development and social issues.

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