oppn parties Sorry Minister, the RTI Act Cannot Be Diluted

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  • Crude prices fall sharply as Saudi Arabia assures normal production in a few weeks. Prices fall by 5.4% to $65.30 per barrel
  • Sensex tumbles 700 points over fears that rising crude prices will deal a body blow to the tottering Indian economy
  • As Rajeev Kumar fails to appear before the CBI despite several notices, the agency forms a special team to locate and apprehend him
  • S Jaishankar says Pakistan is not a normal neighbour and its behaviour is a "set of aberrations"
  • External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar says PoK in Indian territory and the country hopes to have physical jurisdiction over it one day
  • Barasat Sessions court near Kolkata rejects Rajeev Kumar anticipatory bail application citing lack of jurisdiction as the reason
  • PM Modi celebrates his birthday with Narmada aarti and later has lunch with his mother.
  • All 6 Bahujan Samaj Party MLAs merge with the Congress in Rajasthan
  • Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee to meet PM Modi on Wednesday, state issues on the agenda
  • Pakistan to open Kartarpur corridor on Nov 9
  • Rajeev Kumar, ex-police commissioner of Kolkata and wanted for questioning in the Sarada scam does not appear before the CBI despite the state administration requesting him to do so
  • Supreme Court asks the Centre to restore normalcy in J&K but keeping national interest in mind
  • As Trump accepts the invitation to attend a programme in Houston with PM Modi, India rushes to settle trade issues with US
  • After drone attack on Aramco's Suadi Arabia facility, oil prices jump 19% in intra-day trading causing worries for India
  • Imran Khan raises nuclear war bogey again, says if Pakistan loses a conventional war, it might fight till the end with its nuclear arsenal
Sunni Wakf Board and Nirvani Akhara write to the Supreme Court for a negotiated settlement to the Ayodhya dispute
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Sorry Minister, the RTI Act Cannot Be Diluted

By Sunil Garodia

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Editor-in-Chief of indiacommentary.com. Current Affairs analyst and political commentator. Writes for a number of publications.
Jitendra Singh, Union minister of state in the Department of Personnel and Training, made a weird suggestion while speaking at the annual convocation of the Central Information Commission (CIC) a few days ago. According to him, the Right to Information Act (RTI Act) should be amended to make it compulsory for the person filing the RTI to have some “connection” with the matter. This goes against the spirit of the act which was enacted in order to make the government accountable to the people and hence it provided that anyone, without ascribing any reason, could ask for any information about any government department. The act was enacted to bring about transparency in governance. If the person filing the RTI needs to have some “connection” with the matter, he might as well file a lawsuit in the relevant court. This suggestion, if acted upon, will curb the people’s right and power to seek information and would be against transparency.

The minister’s ire rose from the fact that a large number of RTI petitions are pending and the number is rising every day. The minister claimed that people file RTI petitions for things that are already disclosed on a number of government websites and are otherwise in public domain. But the solution to curb frivolous – if they can be called that – or ignorant RTI applications does not lie in putting a condition on filing of such applications. For a start, the routine vacancies in the CIC must be filled immediately. Further, whenever a particular department is faced with an RTI application whose subject matter is already in public domain, the officer concerned can write a two line reply directing the petitioner to the place where he can find the information. Not everyone in India has the wherewithal to know where to find information. Hence, in public domain or not, it is the duty of the government to either provide the information sought or guide the petitioner to the website where it can be found by providing the address to the relevant link. The RTI Act can be suitably amended to provide that any guidance where information could be obtained would mean that the RTI application has been effectively disposed. But in no case can the government dilute the original RTI Act which provides for citizens to seek information without prescribing any reason.