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File notings under RTI after debate with section of society: Wajahat Habibullah
Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah said if the government decides to bring the bill to keep file notings outside the purview of the Right To Information (RTI) Act in the winter session, it will only be after debate with all sections of the society.
"The civil society and the government are the decision makers on the Act. The Central Information Commission job is only to implement the Act, ' Habibullah said speaking at an interactive session on Right to Information Amendment Bill, 2006 organised by the NGO CUTS International.
He said that all government departments have been directed to make a comprehensive compliance report of Section 4 of the Act dealing with maintaining data and information catalogue of information related to the department and submit it to CIC. The report will be submitted to the Parliament in the forthcoming winter session.
Arvind Kejriwal, CEO of Parivartan and 2006 Magsaysay Award winner, said that the amendments do not pertain to file notings only as has been projected in the media. "If the amendments come through, the government will be able to keep the entire country out of the decision-making process. This is because the amendments provide that the departments will not give information on any issue till such time the matter is completed," Kejriwal said.
Another important lacuna, he said, was that even after the decision was made, the entire information would not be provided and only file notings related to social and development work will be available. "So, if a citizen wants to know the status of his ration card or passport he would not get any information because this did not pertain to any social or developmental work," Kejriwal said.
Also, all matters related to personnel will be out of the purview of RTI.
Any information related to examinations process will also not be shown, he said.
Pradeep S Mehta, secretary general of CUTS International, urged CIC to take up the role of advocacy given the extremely low public awareness on the usage of the act. [sourse: Business Standerd Aricle published dated 15th Sept 2006]
NEW DELHI: Firing another salvo at the department of personnel and training (DoPT), the central information commission (CIC) has slapped a penalty on the department for the inordinate delay in giving information to a physically challenged person.
The applicant, Kumar Avikal Manu, had cleared the civil services examination in May 2005 but had not been given a position or service. Manu approached DoPT in June 2006 for information regarding the service he had been allotted and the schedule fixed for his training and reporting for duty.
Despite filing a petition with the appellate authority and the chief public information officer (CPIO), Manu did not get any response.
He also approached the office of the chief commissioner for persons with disabilities, which issued notices to DoPT but did not receive a response.
The appellant then approached CIC under the Right to Information (RTI) Act for information relating to his appointment.
The commission has pulled up DoPT for its "inhuman" and "inefficient" handling of the application.
Referring to the CPIO, the commission noted, "He has indeed paid scant regard to the provisions of the RTI Act. Not only the penalty of Rs 25,000 is to be imposed for his negligent attitude...but also a suitable compensation should be paid to the complainant (Manu) by the DoPT for his sufferings on account of harassment, mental agony and loss of valuable time.
"The commission has directed the DoPT secretary to identify the concerned officers who neglected in responding to Manu's application, explain why compensation should not be paid to the appellant and give the desired information within 15 working days.
CIC also observed, "Secretary, DoPT, is directed to review the role and performance of the CPIOs in his ministry, particularly in light of various advice given to the DoPT in the last one year. And accordingly, take appropriate action so as to meet the national expectations from the passage of this Act by Parliament."
The commission has in the past locked horns with DoPT over whether notings made by officials on files come under the purview of the RTI Act.
In fact, the government has steadfastly refused to reveal information related to file notings and the decision to amend the RTI Act even received a nod from the Union cabinet.
It was only an uproar by civil society and non-government organisations that postponed its passage in Parliament.
DoPT fined for keeping disabled applicant waiting-India-NEWS-The Times of India