Right2Information

Right to Information – Master key to good governance

RTI Act: Confusion prevails over file notings

Posted by rtiact2005 on August 24, 2006

RTI Act: Confusion prevails over file notings

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Sidharth Pandey

Watch story Confusion prevails over file notings

Wednesday, August 23, 2006 (New Delhi):

After a nationwide campaign and Parliament objections, the government retracted its decision to weaken the Right to Information Act and agreed to allow file notings to be made public.

But the Department of Personnel still seems to be flouting the act. On its website it still carries the words “Information does not include file notings”.

Legal experts say this line is illegal and that file notings must be made public according to the Right to Information Act.

The government has already cleared 22 cases by making file notings public. But the Department of Personnel appears to be acting unilaterally.

RTI campaigners insist that by keeping file notings or comments made by government officers secret, the act loses its power and transparency.

Last December one of the Chief Information Commissioners wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asking for the lines to be removed.

The issue has now spiraled into an ongoing tussle between the government and the Central Information Commission (CIC).

In June this year, the Indian Railways refused to show file notings to a petitioner wanting information of a project. The petitioner appealed to the CIC, which on August 13 asked the government to remove the lines.

The government has written back saying all five commissioners have to agree to do so. The CIC insists this is not necessary.

The government has said that file notings are very much a part of the RTI act for the time being as it has not been amended. But the website says just the opposite. This has given rise to confusion, which unless resolved could affect past orders as well as the future functioning of the CIC.

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