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Atul Patankar

Govt to amend laws to strengthen RTI Act

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Atul Patankar

As reported at business-standard.com on July 8, 2009

 

The Centre today said it proposes to strengthen the Right to Information (RTI) Act by making changes in the laws to provide for disclosure by government in all non strategic areas.

 

"It is proposed to review the number of organisations in the second schedule to the Right to Information Act, 2005 and make rule for more disclosure of information by public authorities," Union Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions Prithviraj Chavan told the Rajya Sabha.

 

The government has received representations expressing doubts about the proposed amendments. Non-governmental organisations and social activists will be consulted on the proposed amendments, he said adding "no time frame can be fixed for completion of the process".

 

The government has also conducted a study through an independent organisation to assess the key issues and constraints in implementation of the RTI Act, 2005.

 

"The study recommended measures for improving awareness on right to information, improving convenience in filing information requests, improving efficiency of the Information Commissions, enhancing accountability and clarity of various stakeholders," Chavan said.

 

Source: Govt to amend laws to strengthen RTI Act

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karira

As reported in hindu.com on 08 July 2009:

The Hindu News Update Service

 

Govt proposes to strengthen RTI Act: Chavan

 

New Delhi (IANS): Minister of State for Personnel and Public Grievances Prithviraj Chavan Wednesday said the government will amend laws to strengthen the Right to Information (RTI) Act to enable easy access to information in non-strategic areas.

 

"In this regard, it is proposed to review the number of organisations in the second schedule to the RTI Act, 2005, and make rules for more disclosures of information by public authorities," Chavan told parliament in a written reply to a question.

 

He said the government has received representations expressing doubts about the proposed amendments and that NGOs and social activists would be consulted on the proposed changes.

 

However, no time frame can be fixed for the completion of the process, he added.

 

Several NGOs and RTI activists have expressed reservations over media reports about the government's proposed amendments to the RTI Act.

 

Replying to another question, Chavan said: "A study has been conducted through an independent organisation to assess the key issues and constraints in implementation of the RTI Act, 2005."

 

"The study points out that there is inadequate planning by the public authorities in regard to supply of information, awareness about the act in rural areas is much less than in urban areas, awareness amongst women is much less than in men, and the gap in implementation of the act is because of lack of clear accountability in respect of various functionaries," the minister said.

 

"In this regard, the study recommended measures for improving awareness of the RTI, improving convenience in filling information requests, improving efficiency of the Information Commissions and enhancing accountability and clarity of various stakeholders," Chavan added.

 

In reply to another question, he said that a total of 13,322 cases were disposed of by the Central Information Commission (CIC) during 2008-09 as compared to 7,722 in 2007-08. In 2006-07, 4,074 cases were cleared and 682 cases were decided in 2005-06.

 

Chavan said as on April 1 this year, a total of 8,924 cases were pending before the CIC and to help in early clearance of these cases the government has strengthened the CIC by appointing more Information Commissioners.

 

"The commission has also taken steps to increase the use of information technology for quick disposal of cases," he added.

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Atul Patankar

As reported at timesofindia.indiatimes.com on 9 Jul 2009

 

NEW DELHI: The government is set to review the list of agencies that have been exempted from disclosure under RTI to assess if they can be brought under the purview of the Act.

 

Organisations like Intelligence Bureau, Research & Analysis Wing, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Narcotics Control Bureau and Central Reserve Police Force are among 18 central agencies that have been exempted under the RTI Act. Only matters related to allegations of corruption or violation of human rights pertaining to these agencies can be disclosed under the legislation.

 

In a statement to Parliament on Wednesday, Prithviraj Chavan, minister of state in charge of DoPT, said, "It is proposed to review the number of organisations in the second schedule to the Right to Information Act, 2005 and make rule for more disclosure of information by public authorities."

 

States too can exempt agencies working in intelligence or security spheres.

 

The minister also said the government proposed to "strengthen" the Act by making changes in the law to provide for disclosure by government in all non- strategic areas.

 

The government has received representations expressing doubts about the proposed amendments. "Non-government organisations and social activists will be consulted on the proposed amendments," he said, adding, "No timeframe can be fixed for completion of the process."

 

The government has also conducted a study through an independent organisation to assess the key issues and constraints in implementation of the RTI Act. "The study recommended measures for improving awareness on right to information, improving convenience in filing information requests, improving efficiency of the information commissions, enhancing accountability and clarity of various stakeholders," Chavan said.

 

NGOs are, however, opposed to this saying that the Act should not be tinkered with.

 

Source: Security agencies may be brought under RTI Act - India - The Times of India

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      View full entry
    • momita
      By momita
      The plea that was filed by RTI activists Commodore Lokesh Batra (retired) along with Anjali Bhardwaj and Amrita Johri on 24 April will be heard by the top court when it reopens Monday after the summer break.
      The plea suggests that despite huge backlogs of appeals and complaints in many information commissions across the country, information commissioners have not been appointed. This has resulted in information commissions taking months, and in some cases even years, to decide appeals.
      “Currently, there are four vacancies in the Central Information Commission, even as more than 23,500 appeals and complaints are pending,” the petitioners claim.
      According to the petition, the State Information Commission (SIC) of Andhra Pradesh is completely non-functional since no information commissioner has been appointed there.
      Similarly, the Maharashtra SIC has four vacancies resulting in a backlog of around 40,000 cases. In Kerala, just one officer is manning the commission and has to adjudicate on more than 14,000 pending appeals and complaints.
      Recounting the state of affairs in various state commissions, the plea has noted that there are six vacancies in the SIC of Karnataka even though 33,000 cases are pending there.
      Odisha and Telangana are the only states where appointments have been made. There too the backlog goes up to 10,000 and 15,000 appeals respectively.
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      “The effective functioning of information commissions, the final adjudicators under the RTI Act, is critical for the health of the transparency regime in the country,” the activists argue in their plea.

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