Right2Information

Right to Information – Master key to good governance

For info panel, right to know still applies to file notings

Posted by rtiact2005 on August 18, 2006

For info panel, right to know still applies to file notings

RITU SARIN

Posted online: Friday, August 18, 2006 at 0000 hrs

http://www.indianexpress.com/story/10860.html

New Delhi, August 17:While NGOs and activists protest over the proposed amendments to the Right To Information (RTI) law that seek to keep file notings out of its purview, few realise that the Central Information Commission (CIC) itself is involved in its own battle on the issue with the Government.

Interpreting that file notings do come under RTI, the commission has, in fact, been giving rulings asking for file notings to be provided to applicants even as the public debate goes on.

Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah told The Indian Express that while he will have to apply the amendments—if and when they come—he was ‘‘a little uncomfortable’’ about the move. He said that the CIC website had several orders allowing the release of files and file notings.

CIC officials say two particular orders could have precipitated matters for the Government.

The first is an order dated July 13, under which the CIC gave the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) a ‘‘deadline’’ of August 22 by which it should remove, from its website, the notice that file notings were exempt from RTI provisions. That order came after a former employee of the Railway Protection Force (RPF) asked for examination of file notings on the basis of which he alleged he was denied a promotion.

After the Railway Board turned down his request for file notings, the CIC ruled “with serious concern” that some “public authorities were denying request for inspection of file notings and supply copies thereof to the applicants despite the fact that the RTI Act does not exempt file notings from disclosure.”

The other significant order of the CIC follows an application for examination of file notings filed by Arvind Kejriwal of Parivartan. Parivartan asked for details of appointments of bureaucrats over the last two years.

After hearings in which top DoPT officials appeared, the Commission ruled that despite their plea for reconsideration, the ‘‘(DoPT) should work out ways and means so that all information was provided to the appellant in the true spirit of the RTI Act.’’

However, while this order was passed by the CIC on July 14, Kejriwal says he has received a letter which states that the file notings can’t be supplied to him since all officials whose details were sought would have to be sent notices by the DoPT and this would mean a ‘‘diversion’’ of Government funds.

ritu.sarin@expressindia.com

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