Right to Information – Master key to good governance

Centre backtracks on Information Act

Posted by rtiact2005 on August 20, 2006

Centre backtracks on Information Act

Special Correspondent


Move to amend Act for deleting file notings deferred



  • Manmohan asks Personnel Ministry to keep amendments in abeyance
  • Comprehensive dialogue on “file noting” issue needed


    New Delhi: The United Progressive Alliance Government has decided not to bring in the proposed controversial amendments to the Right to Information Act, at least in the current session of Parliament.

    Official sources said Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh received many representations against the proposed amendments, aimed at deleting “file notings” from the new transparency regime.

    Ms. Gandhi is believed to have advised the Government that there should be wider consultations among the stakeholders before the controversy over the file noting provisions got sorted out. The Prime Minister has asked the Ministry of Personnel to keep in abeyance the controversial amendments, the sources said.

    In the Government’s own narrative, “file notings” were never part of the Right to Information Act as passed by Parliament.

    In this narrative, neither the Group of Ministers nor the Parliamentary Standing Committee had intended to include the words “file notings” in the definition of “information” given in Section 2(f).

    A controversy arose because the Central Information Commission interpreted Section 2(f) to include “file notings.” As the Central Information Commissioner, O.P. Kejriwal, told the media in July 2006, “Information minus the notings amounts to taking the life out of the RTI Act.”

    Mr. Kejriwal’s dissent prompted the Prime Minister’s Office to issue an elaborate explanation on July 26, 2006. In this it was clarified that even after the amendment the “file notings of all plans, schemes and programmes of the Government that relate to the development and social issues shall be disclosed.”

    According to officials, it would mean that only a small portion of the file notings relating to “personnel-related matters like examination, assessment and evaluation of recruitment, disciplinary proceedings, etc.” was being kept out of the disclosure purview.

    Nonetheless, various sections of civil society, as also the Information Commissioners, were not mollified. Social activist Anna Hazare of Maharasthra went on a fast.

    The decision to defer making changes in the Right to Information Act is in response to the protests. However, the official sources were keen on stressing that the chapter on “file noting” had not been closed, and that a comprehensive dialogue was needed.

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      Centre backtracks on Information Act « Right2Information

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