Protests against RTI grow louder
Posted by rtiact2005 on August 4, 2006
Protests against RTI grow louder
Posted Thursday , August 03, 2006 at 22:00Updated Thursday , August 03, 2006 at 22:57
New Delhi: The Cabinet decision to amend the Right to Information Act has met with some vociferous protest from information activists.
Even as Parliament is getting ready to pass the Bill seeking amendments to the Right to Information Act, voices of protest are growing louder.
While NGOs and citizens’ groups have raised a vociferous protest, even former bureaucrats have come out openly against the ban on file notings being made public.
“There’s no right to information. It’s a huge assault on our democracy,” founder of Parivartan, Arvind Kejriwal, alleges.
“It is very worrying. We are all being taken for a massive ride,” Aruna Roy, former member of the NAC, adds.
Among citizens’ initiatives, there are signature campaigns and online petitions against the Cabinet decision to amend the RTI.
Several bureaucrats have also joined the anti-amendment campaign, writing to the President, the Prime Minister, Sonia Gandhi and other political leaders, asking them not to dilute the Act.
File notings are essentially the green page on the left-hand side of every file, which gives details like which officer was handling a particular file, what comments did he make and how he arrived at a particular decision.
Experts say the proposed amendment could mean a death blow to the Act. For, it exludes file notings, except for those relating to development and social issues.
This means though the decisions of the government would be known, the basis on which they have been taken will not be given.
The amendment will also deny access to any material based on which the council of ministers took decisions. Here too, transparency is going to be a big casualty.
The proposed amendment will also deny any access to identities of those who have recorded notings. In other words, there will be no accountability, so civil servants will continue to work arbitarily secure in the knowledge that their names are protected.
It will also exempt all information related to the process of examination, which means that one can’t get a corrected exam sheets. It will deny any access to information on suitability of a person for appointment or promotion.
And most importantly, there will be no access to information on decisions in process. This means nobody would be able to question delays in any sector.
What is left? The worst is it undermines the Central Information Commission,” Kejriwal points out.
Moreover, the success of RTI is evident in the fact that seven years after nine states implemented the Act, without the exemption of file notings, not a single officer has raised any complaint.
The power of RTI
- Right to access govt documents
- Right to inspect govt work
- Fixes direct accountability on officials
Right To Information
Proposed RTI Amendments
- Exclude file notings, except those relating to development and social issues
- No access to material based on which council of ministers took decisions
- No access to identities of those who have recorded notings
- Exempt all information related to the process of examination
- No access to information on suitability of a person for appointment or promotion
- No access to information on decisions in process