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DoPT is using all possible legal strategies to dilute RTI Act, WHILE DOING NOTHING ABOUT IMPLEMENTATION.

Posted by rtiact2005 on October 6, 2006

DoPT is using all possible legal strategies to dilute RTI Act, WHILE DOING NOTHING ABOUT IMPLEMENTATION.

It is a shame that DoPT is getting into legal battles and confrontation with Central Information Commission, where it is a champion against the implementation of RTI Act in letter and spirit. DoPT is using all possible legal strategies to dilute RTI Act, WHILE DOING NOTHING ABOUT IMPLEMENTATION.

A. There in program for educating public under s 26.

B. There is no thrust on changing record keeping to meet the needs of RTI Act,envisaged in s 4(a).

C.Section 4(2) has far reaching consequences: nothing is being done to ensure suo-moto declaration of information to avoid RTI application from citizens.

D. Large scale training of public authorities is essentialfor implementing RTI Act, with focus on attitudinal changes to make them attuned to transparencu and greater public accountability.

Aforesaid actions (A, B, C and D) can not be taken by Public authoritieswithout budget provisions eramarked for implementation of RTI act. THERE IS NO BUDGET FOR THIS PURPOSE.

Dhirendra Krishna dhirendrakrishna@yahoo.co.uk Aug 29, 7:59 AM

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DOPT IS THE ANTI-RTI MOUTHPIECE OF THE GOVERNMENT.

Mr. Dhirendra Krishna has rightly listed the things that the DOPT has not done, though it was envisaged to do so, as being the implementation agency of the RTI Act. The manner in which most of the Central Government Public Authorities have merely filled useless data under section 4 of the RTI Act is more of a sham. Either few pages of glossy brochures of Public Sector Undertakings have been reproduced in the RTI Portal, just to create volume, or it is mentioned: “There are currently no items in this folder”, on Proactive Disclosures.

Crux of the matter lies in obligations having been cast upon public authorities to proactively disclose information, to such an extent that the public may have minimum resort to use the Act to obtain information. This has been completely lost sight of. Most of the ‘information’ was hurriedly composed to meet the deadline, and since then the DOPT never spent time and effort to see that it is updated.

Regarding matters which it was not envisaged to do, look at the matter published on August 23, 2006 in The Hindu, where Vidya Subrahmaniam has quoted from copy of a letter which draws strength from an opinion submitted to the Ministry by Additional Solicitor-General, Gopal Subramanium. Says the letter dated August 21, 2006, by Shri L.K. Joshi: “As directed by the Prime Minister, the matter [of file notings] was examined in consultation with the Ministry of Law, Department of Legal Affairs. A copy of the considered opinion of the Additional Solicitor-General received in this regard is enclosed.”

It has been made to appear that the PM has freshly directed the said examination, though there is little doubt that the PM has been quoted out of context. The said ‘direction’, if so, must have been prior to the date the PM announced calling off amendment of the RTI Act in the then current session of the Parliament. It is unbelievable that the PM would do such a thing after the said announcement. But who can stop DOPT from doing what it has been doing for long.

That is precisely how the PM is being led the garden path, misinformed at each step, and also that the impugned alteration in definition of ‘information’ was surely done, without adopting proper lawful process, papers prepared for the Cabinet meeting to take the decision that it took, and the same tirade is being continued by the lobby which is behind the DOPT, or in fact is the DOPT itself, as far as the RTI Act is concerned. No wonder there has been no let up in efforts by the DOPT to still keep the pot boiling.

Grace demanded that DOPT drop the impugned alteration, gracefully. Alas DOPT.

P.K. Aditya, Chandigarh, August 29, 2006, 4:28 PM premaditya@gmail.com

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WHO IS THE GOVERNMENT – DOPT OR ELSE ?

DOPT is that face of the Department of Personnel and Training which in spite of being the implementation agency of the RTI Act, is doing all it can possibly do, and has done greatest harm to RTI by changing a lawful definition in the most lawless manner.

The manner in which information under section 4 of the RTI Act has been displayed by most of the Central Government Public Authorities, on the RTI Portal of the DOPT, containing merely useless data from some pages of advertisement oriented glossy brochures of Public Sector Undertakings, speaks volumes about DOPT. In most cases, when such glossy material was non-existent, the website says: “There are currently no items in this folder”, on Proactive Disclosures.

Crux of the matter lies in obligations having been cast upon public authorities to proactively disclose information, to such an extent that the public may have minimum resort to use the Act to obtain information. This has been completely lost sight of. Most of the ‘information’ was hurriedly composed to meet the deadline, and since then the DOPT never spent time and effort to see that it is updated.

It has not done what the PM asked DOPT directly to do, but has exploited the name of the PM as and when possible. In the December 1, 2005 press-release captioned: “PM initiates change in RTI rules to enable disclosure of notings”, last four words clearly imply: ‘enable disclosures’, the DOPT remained unmoved. There was mention of DOPT being instructed to incorporate certain changes, in consultation with the Ministry of Justice, and that ‘substantive file notings on certain listed matters may be disclosed, except those protected by the exemption clauses in section 8 of the Act. The DOPT took no such steps nor made such announcement.

Recently, soon after the PM announced on August 18 the collective decision of the Government to not proceed with the matter of amendment of the RTI Act in the current session of the Parliament, a letter dated August 21, 2006 has surfaced in the name of Shri L.K. Joshi, containing the opening sentence: “As directed by the Prime Minister, the matter [of file notings] was examined in consultation with the Ministry of Law, Department of Legal Affairs, etc”, as brought to light on August 23, 2006 in The Hindu, by Vidya Subrahmaniam, which draws strength from an opinion submitted to the Ministry by Additional Solicitor-General, Gopal Subramanium. It is an attempt to bring in the name of the Pm when by all indications, the said “As directed by the Prime Minister”, must have occurred much before the August 18, 2006 announcement.

DOPT is using all tricks in its bag to pass time, by invoking the doings, or un-doings, of the CIC, lest the obnoxious altered definition of ‘information’ has to be removed. Like HMV (His Masters Voice) of the powers-that-be, public is being compelled to do shadow boxing till such time that the Government can be pressed to toe their line.

That is precisely how the PM is being led the garden path, to do what a right thinking person like him would not do, if left to his thinking, but for undesirable process of officialdom. Where is the room for keeping the pot boiling.

Now, Anjali Puri of outlookindia.com, has quoted Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan, as saying: “After having been forced to defer the amendments, the government is now trying to sabotage the act by paralysing the functioning of the CIC. It is also trying to make the CIC toothless, by saying: if the government thinks a particular piece of information is privileged, the CIC cannot even look at it — leave alone disclose it”. Literature is replete with cases in which the Apex Court has ruled that it is not what the “government thinks of a particular piece of information”, fit for disclosure, or otherwise, but whether the government can prove on the basis of documents, to be duly sworn, that it has “said privilege” to say so.

To the question: “So, who is the government ?”, an obvious answer should be: “DOPT”. The PM, or the Congress President, or one or the other Ministers just do not matter.

One last question: On this iomportant matter of “public interest” why is there no one from the vast “public”, to speak in favour of the thinking of the DOPT, except for the minions.

P.K. Aditya, Chandigarh, August 31, 2006., 6:00 PM, premaditya@gmail.com

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One Response to “DoPT is using all possible legal strategies to dilute RTI Act, WHILE DOING NOTHING ABOUT IMPLEMENTATION.”

  1. SECTION 4 OF RTI BEING NOT PROPERLY IMPLEMENTED.

    Section 4 comprises subsections (1), (2), (3) and (4). Subsection (1) has four clauses (a), (b), (c) and (d). Literature shows compliance of only 4(1)(b), even that poorly. All others have not been at all implemented. In over four years there are less than ten references, of all others, except 4(1)(b), put together. I have put together this subject on my website: http://www.drpkaditya.com. May readers look the matter up, before I say more on these esteemed columns. Thanks.
    Dr.P.K.Aditya, Jan 3, 2010.

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