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Atul Patankar

'It's not yet time to amend the RTI Act'

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Atul Patankar

As reported at dnaindia.com by Ashutosh Shukla on July 20, 2009

 

While RTI activist may be staging arrest to oppose any amendments being made to the Right to Information Act, 2005, a report submitted last year by information commissioners spread across the country decided that the legislation needs to be given more time to evolve.

 

The committee, constituted by the Central Information Commission, consisted of nine chief state information commissioners covering all regions of the country and a central information commissioner. The report was submitted in latter part of 2008 to the Prime Minister. This year too, a committee has been constituted to suggest amendments but has met only once for its preliminary meet.

 

While the objectives of the meeting were to coordinate the suggestion received from state commissions, and review the suggested amendments in the Act, it unanimously decided that more amendments be considered later.

 

“We felt the Act was new, and its acceptance and usage needed to evolve,” said Dr Suresh Joshi, chief state information commissioner and a member of the committee.

 

“There is a vast difference in the implementation of the Act in various states. So we said that we should first see to it that it is implemented well,” he said.

 

“In Maharashtra, I still feel there is no need for an amendment. But if the central government wants to introduce amendments that will lead to greater transparency and make the Act more efficient, then it is always welcome.”

 

The suggestions from the committe includes improving flow of information, coordination of activities at the state and central governments for more informed and best practices, creation of an e-enabled common portal of information commissions on the lines of Andhra Pradesh Information Commission, government’s obligation to publish complete information under (this was to be done within 120 days of the Act being formed).

 

Before moving on to the recommendations, the report categorically states that the most significant positive outcome of the Act is realisation amongst bureaucrats that they can no longer be opaque and hide information by taking refuge under Officials Secret Act and are forced to being accountable. The other positive is proactive district administrators encouraged to work for spreading RTI.

 

Source: 'It's not yet time to amend the RTI Act'

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