Right to Information – Master key to good governance

Public can access file notings, recommends ARC

Posted by rtiact2005 on August 19, 2006

Public can access file notings, recommends ARC


BANGALORE: In a major setback to the Centre, the second Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC) headed by M Veerappa Moily has said files and notings per se are not confidential and should be accessible to public unless exempted under Section 8 of the Right to Information Act.


In its first report to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the commission has recommended that Para 118 (1) of the Manual of Office Procedure should be deleted as it is totally violative of the RTI Act. The rulebook currently deems file notings to be confidential only for those within the secretariat.

ARC’s recommendation would be an embarrassment to the Centre at a time when the government is planning to amend the RTI Act to make file notings inaccessible.

“The Manual of Office Procedure was prepared when the RTI Act was not in existence. These provisions are totally violative of the Act and hence need to be brought in conformity with the Act.

Notings and files per se will not become confidential and inaccessible unless they are classified as such and are declared to be covered under exemption provisions of Section 8 (1) of the Act,” the ARC said.

“To bring it in conformity with the Act, the provisions regarding unauthorised communication of official information and confidential character of notes/files will have to be amended,” it recommended.

In another recommendation that goes against the proposed RTI amendment, the ARC has said that every government servant should make available full and accurate information to the public or any organisation which can be disclosed under the RTI Act.

Dealing with the confidentiality of the information, the ARC has asked each ministry/department to identify information which deserves to be given a security classification.

The commission has recommended an amendment to the RTI Act to classify 11 items exempted under Sec 8 (1) and 9 as top secret, secret, confidential and restricted.

For instance, under this, information pertaining to cabinet papers, including deliberations of Council of Ministers, secretaries and other officers, are to be classified as confidential.

Similarly, any information which affected the sovereignty and integrity of the country would be classified as top secret.

Top secret and secret documents will be classified for not less than 30 years while confidential and restricted information will remain so for a period not exceeding 30 years.


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