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Government has dropped the move to amend the Right to Information Act in the current session of Parliament to keep out of public purview file notings in some areas.
Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Suresh Pachauri said that following a decision taken by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the amendment bill was not likely to be introduced in the current session of Parliament concluding on July 25.
He said there have been considerable apprehensions about the proposed changes and clarifications in the Right to Information Act. Congress President Sonia Gandhi and the Prime Minister have received several representations in this regard and it has been decided that the issue should be first discussed with all stakeholders, he said.
In view of this, Pachauri said, the bill to amend the RTI Act was not likely to be introduced during the current session of Parliament as decided by the Prime Minister.
Officials sources said when the previous NDA government brought the Freedom of Information Bill in 2004 all the file notings were exempted from public disclosure. Similar acts in states also exempted file notings.
Recently, the sources said, the centre had said that notings of officials on social and developmental issues would be made public and this would cover 85 per cent of all notings.
However, other notings were kept out of purview of the RTI Act because of the apprehensions voiced by some government institutions and bureaucracy that it would impede decision-making process.
Sources said President APJ Abdul Kalam was also believed to have expressed reservations about making all notings public because officials should be able to record their views frankly.
Govt develops cold feet on amendments to RTI Act : HindustanTimes.com
Srinagar, September 13: The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) while describing the Right to Information (Amendment) Bill of 2007, adopted by the two houses of the state Legislature, as â€˜half-hearted effortâ€™, has urged Governor, Lt Gen (Retd) S. K. Sinha, to withhold his consent on the plea that the Bill had a number of lacunae.
The State Legislature has made some amendments in its existing Right to Information (RTI) Act, claiming to make it at par with Central Act. However, the rights body stresses that the amendments need lot more amendments.
In a communication to the Governor, the Human Rights body has requested Sinha to withhold his consent to the Bill under section 78 of the state constitution.
"The amendments to the RTI bill were inadequate and do not provide citizens seeking information from the public bodies in Jammu and Kashmir the same guarantees and protection available to people in other states,â€ the rights body remarked.
It has also been requested the Governor to withhold his assent till the state Legislature makes the Bill at a par with the central act passed in 2005.
â€œThe proposed amendments are a half-hearted measure and do not go the whole length of the way to bring the State RTI Act at par with the Central RTI Act. There was no visible public consultation conducted by the State Government prior to the tabling of the Amendments. Several MLAs had strongly argued for referring the Amendment Bill to a joint select committee consisting of members of both Houses of the J&K Legislature for detailed consideration of the Act and the amendments as this is an important law giving effect to a fundamental right of citizens something that was ignored by the state legislature,â€ the statement issued by the CHRI claimed.
According to CHRI press statement the amendments do not effectively secure the fundamental right to access information for citizens in Jammu and Kashmir. If the Amendment Bill becomes law, citizens will have inferior rights in matters relating to seeking and obtaining information from the Government as compared to that enjoyed by citizens in other parts of the country. Furthermore the amendments will create a weak enforcement mechanism for securing compliance of public bodies with the provisions of the J&K RTI Act. The Amendment Bill requires several changes if it is to bring the Jammu and Kashmir RTI Act at par with the Central RTI Act,
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