Right to Information – Master key to good governance

RTI: Sonia stays move to erase notings

Posted by rtiact2005 on August 20, 2006

RTI: Sonia stays move to erase notings


NEW DELHI: The invisible hand that pulls the levers of government has moved once again, preventing a proposed amendment to the Right to Information Act to keep file notings out of public domain and emasculating the core transparency that was intended.

Under pressure from activists and NGOs who had crowded the National Advisory Council when she was its chair, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi directed the government to drop the move to amend the RTI Act to enable the bureaucracy to protect confidentiality of notings on files.

As reported prominently in The Times of India, the attempt to dilute the Act angered activists across the country and even the Administrative Reforms Commission opposed keeping file notings out of the public eye unless there were serious issues of national security involved.

The BJP and the Left had also warned against tampering with the Act, saying they would block any attempt to pass the Bill in Parliament.

Minister of state for parliamentary affairs Suresh Pachauri confirmed on Saturday that the proposed Bill to amend the Act would not be introduced during the remaining week of Parliament’s monsoon session.

He left no doubts that the Congress chief’s intervention had made the government change its mind… 

Earlier this week, the government was actively considering a Bill to carry out the amendment. In fact, parliamentary affairs minister P R Dasmunsi said on Friday that there was a possibility of the Bill being introduced in the Rajya Sabha.

“We would have been happier if the government had completely withdrawn the amendments,” said social activist Aruna Roy. Welcoming the move though, she described it as a victory for the Indian people.

With Sonia putting her foot down, minister of state in the PMO Prithviraj Chavan rushed to Maharashtra and managed to persuade social activist Anna Hazare to give up his fast-unto-death over the government move.

While activists greeted the news with jubilation, there was considerable unease in the higher echelons of bureaucracy.

“No official would like to take unpleasant decisions knowing that his notings are being preserved for public view for posterity,” said a senior bureaucrat.

The government had offered visibility of file notings on social and developmental issues while wanting to pull a curtain over notings on more sensitive matters.

However, with activists crying foul and Sonia taking up cudgels on their behalf, the government beat a hasty retreat.

Related Stories
Anna Hazare calls off fast on RTI amendment
Readerspeak: Let there be a mass movement
Complete Coverage: Another freedom struggle

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: