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]
Kolkata, April 2 (PTI): The full bench of the Central Information Commission will decide whether documents consulted by enquiry panels probing the mysterious disappearance of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose should be disclosed, Information Commissioner A N Tiwari has said.
Tiwari conveyed this recently to Mission Netaji, a Delhi-based organisation campaigning to access information on the disappearance of the icon of the freedom movement, while hearing its appeal in this regard.
Giving a "final chance" to the Union home ministry to come clear on the issue, Tiwari asked it to provide an adequate explanation from the ministerial level on why documents sought by Mission Netaji could not be made public.
All documents on the basis of which the two inquiry panels led by Shah Nawaz Khan (1956) and G D Khosla (1970-74) made their decisions have been kept secret by the government.
Tiwari's directive came close on the heels of Information Commissioner O P Kejriwal directing the external affairs ministry to provide Mission Netaji's Anuj Dhar copies of its correspondence with the Sovet Union and later Russia on Netaji's disappearance.
"If adequate explanations are not provided, the Commission will be compelled to direct the disclosure of all documents in question," Kejriwal said.
Last year, Home Minister Shivraj Patil announced in Parliament that investigations conducted by Khan and Khosla were more credible than that of Justice M K Mukherjee who headed another panel that probed Netaji's disappearance.
Following Patil's announcement, Mission Netaji's Sayantan Dasgupta filed a petition with the home ministry to seek copies of all documents examined by the Khan and Khosla panels.
"Our case has been that these enquiries made selective use of evidence to arrive at the conclusion to suit the government's view that Netaji died in Taipei," Dasgupta claimed.
In response, the home ministry refused to provide documents, taking recourse to secion 8 1(a) of the RTI Act, which exempts the release of information information which can "prejudicially affect sovereignty and integrity of India", "relations with a foreign state" or "lead to incitement of offence".
Dasgupta then filed a complaint with the CIC. In its first hearing in October last year, home ministry officials said they were not aware of the documents examined by the earlier panels as they, unlike the Mukherjee Commission, had not appended any list of exhibits.
Tiwari then directed Dasgupta to revise the original application to demand specific documents. Accordingly, Mission Netaji filed a revised petition with a list of 202 documents used as exhibits by the Khosla Commission in its arguments section.
At the latest hearing last week, home ministry officials were to appear with the papers but instead came with a secret note from Home Secretary V K Duggal, who has since retired.
Irked at the letter that reiterated the same arguments using Section 8 1(a), Tiwari said: "The issue is far too important to be decided in an ad hoc manner at the level of the home secretary. I am not prepared to allow an omnibus recourse to Section 8 1(a)."
The CIC assured the appellant that Indians had every right to have full information on their hero.
The Hindu News Update Service