Right2Information

Right to Information – Master key to good governance

RTI Act: New tool for politicians?

Posted by rtiact2005 on October 19, 2006

RTI Act: New tool for politicians?
Ayesha Khan

http://cities.expressindia.com/fullstory.php?newsid=205896

Vadodara, October 18: IS the Right To Information Act becoming a handy tool used by people to settle personal as well as political scores? Two Congress councillors in the Vadodara Municipal Corporation recently sought information related to health and development work under this Act. Another councillor from Padra has also been seeking information routinely in this manner. Though there is no legal provision preventing elected representatives from seeking information under RTI Act, many believe this is another way of misusing an Act meant to empower the common man.

In their party workers’ training meets, both the Congress and the BJP have been conducting refresher courses on the use of RTI Act and how to exercise the power to play the role of an effective opposition. In the Congress’ Janmitra sessions held across the State, one of the sessions was on RTI.

Perhaps, taking this to heart, two VMC councillors Chandrakant Srivastava and Imtiaz Patel have now sought information under RTI. While Patel has sought health data on the number of Barodians who have reported ill from specific areas, Bhattu has sought information on specific development work like laying of roads and drainage lines in his constituency.

Padra councillor Bipin Patel, who belongs to the Congress, has also been demanding information routinely under RTI, thereatfer legally challenging the BJP-led nagarpalika’s decision in certain cases. However, senior political leaders make a distinction between party worker and elected representative. A senior Congress leader, on grounds of anonymity, said: ”It’s slightly stupid for a councillor to seek information under RTI, as we routinely ask questions during the general board meeting. As councillors, irrespective of the party we belong, we are the ones to frame civic rules.”

But Srivastava and Patel defend their act. ”The information which we receive under RTI Act is the official data that can be used to counter the authorities’ claims. It has more credibility,” said Srivastava. City Congress president Bhikha Rabari, however, said, ”The councillors usually need not seek information under the RTI Act as they are privy to official information.”

Countering this, Patel said, ”Since we are in minority, the BJP-dominated board does not want to part with all information. Under the RTI Act, they have to clearly state the details, which exposes them.” Interestingly, there is no such precedent in Rajkot or Surat wherein elected councillors have sought information under the RTI Act to turn the heat on their political opponents or expose the alleged administrative inefficiencies.

3 Responses to “RTI Act: New tool for politicians?”

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