oppn parties Sorry Minister, the RTI Act Cannot Be Diluted

News Snippets

  • Supreme Court asks journalists to be responsible and publish only the official version of news after it was brought to its notice that migrant exodus started after the 'fake' news that the lockdown will be extended to three months
  • Small saving rates slashed by the government by 140 basis points
  • The Centre says that the exodus of the migrants was stopped to save villages and prevent community transmission
  • The Centre says March 31 will remain the closing date for FY 2019-2020 and no change will be made for Covid-19 disruption
  • Tablighi Jamaat fiasco puts several states on high alert, attendees and their contacts being traced
  • Stock markets recover on the last day of the financial year, but the sentiment remains weak
  • The government says Covid-19 is still in local transmission stage in India
  • Government scotches rumours of extending the lockdown beyond April14. Says no such plan
  • Centre asks states to give shelter and food to migrant workers to stop them from taking to the streets
  • RBI cuts repo rate by 75 bps, the steepest in 10 years
  • Centre writes to states regarding laxity in monitoring people who had arrived from abroad between January and March
  • Kerala reports a spurt in new cases
  • With 124 fresh cases on Friday, the number of reported cases in India stand at 854
  • Five of a family, including a 9-month-old-baby test positive for Covid-19 in Nadia district in West Bengal on Friday
  • The Pakistani army is reportedly forcibly moving all Covid-19 patients to PoK and Gilgit
Total count crosses 1600 in India with 52 deaths and 146 recoveries on Tuesday, spurt in cases in Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu
oppn parties
Sorry Minister, the RTI Act Cannot Be Diluted

By Sunil Garodia
First publised on 2017-12-10 23:09:59

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.