Suggested draft for statement from MPs
Posted by rtiact2005 on August 3, 2006
We are distressed at the proposed amendments to the Right To Information Act passed by the Cabinet. We have een recieving a lot of representation sfrom Citizens that they see this move as curtailing their New-found Freedom in the Right To Information Act 22 of 2005.
Citizens have just started using this act, and have begun to understand the immense empowerment which will convert India into a true participatory democracy.
The Cabinet decision to amend the most important Act which allows Citizens to monitor and improve Governance, by disallowing File Notings is a Citizen-unfriendly act and strikes at the roots of Freedom. The move to amend the Act is not a move giving more powers to Citizens as the Government statements have claimed.
If that was true, the Government would have been willing to make a public declaration of the proposed changes and engaged in an open discussion with Citizens. The move to dilute, what to Citizens is very important smacks of the arrogance of power, which Right To Information seeks to challenge. We would also like to list the following:
1. Putting file notings in the realm of exemptions will make the Act weaker. There are a lot of instances where honest officers have recorded their objections to illegal proposals, and the higher officers/Ministers have overruled them, which would come to light. What was have percieved as Right To Information is being sought to be converted to Right To Corruption. Citizens are making the connection of the proposed amendment to the Act coming soon after an All-India Antibribery Campaign using RTI. What is important and paramount in a democracy is the Citizen’s perception.
2. The move smacks of arrogance of power and arbitrariness. The Government has made no attempt to disclose to the Public, what great harm has accrued to governance in the last few months, which could not be covered under the present exemptions under Section 8. Nor has it declared the proposed draft and been willing to discuss it with people.
3 It makes a mockery of over nine months (from August 2004 to May 2005) of a consultative-deliberative process between Beaureucrats, Ministers, a Parliamentary Committee and Citizens, by an arbitrary decision of the cabinet. This is violative of the basic principles of transparency and democracy.
Citizens have made representations against the amendments, and we respect these. We shall oppose the Government’s retrograde step. This is an opportunity to bring about participatory democracy which allows Citizens the right to monitor the Government. Any move which people consider violative of their fundamental right is a step to curtail their freedom, and must be condemned.
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