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dr.s.malhotra

RTI ‘transgressing into govt functioning’, Moily wants a debate

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karira

As reported by IANS in deccanherald.com on 18 Oct 2011:

http://www.deccanherald.com/content/198639/rti-act-not-amended-moily.html

 

RTI Act will not be amended: Moily

 

Stating that the Right to Information (RTI) Act won't be amended, Corporate Affairs Minister M. Veerappa Moily Monday said certain ''inbuilt weaknesses" in it must be addressed. At the same time, the bureaucracy should know ''how to write in a file''.

 

"There are several aspects in the RTI Act. RTI can't be used as an instrument to blackmail. RTI should be used for public interest. There are certain inbuilt weaknesses which need to be addressed.

 

"That doesn't mean we need to amend it," the former law minister told reporters on the sidelines of a programme organised by the Indian Chamber of Commerce here.

"It (RTI) can't be used for the agenda of some political party, the agenda of some people who would like to see that the country is not built but destroyed," he said.

 

Calling for a national debate on RTI, the minister said it was an input to build participatory democracy in the country.

 

"But that doesn't mean we are going to amend the act or any of its provisions," he said.

Moily's comments come three days after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called for a critical look at the RTI Act, saying it should not affect the deliberative processes in the government.

 

The prime minister had said there were "concerns that it (RTI) could end up discouraging honest, well meaning public servants from giving full expression to their views".

Moily underscored the need for capacity building within the bureaucracy.

 

"They (bureaucrats) should know how to act against the challenges of RTI. I think in this respect there is deficiency in governance. If that is addressed and also the capacity building is done, things will be all right.

 

"For example, parliamentary questions or assembly questions... not that every question is answered. They also make a selection. That does not mean that parliamentary democracy is negative.

 

"So we should live through the practice and live through the articles of the RTI... Officers should know how to write in a file. Ministers should also know what to write, how to write,” Moily said.

 

On whether his ministry will make Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) a compulsory area, Moily said: “We have adopted some conciliatory note. By and large, the culture has to be developed. CSR is no more a charity, no more a philanthropy. It is a social business.

 

“There are as many as 300 backward districts in the country where investment will not go. Through CSR, (industrialists) can do sustainable business,” he added.

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karira

As reported by PTI in telegraphindia.com on 18 Oct 2011:

http://www.telegraphindia.com/1111018/jsp/nation/story_14637270.jsp

 

Khurshid for relook at RTI ‘hiccups’

 

New Delhi, Oct. 17 (PTI): Union law minister Salman Khurshid today said there was no proposal for a re-look at the RTI law but if there were “hiccups”, they should be examined.

 

“I know of no such proposal.... If there are any hiccups anywhere, should we not examine them, should we not talk about them, should we not debate them and see what’s to be done?” he said, when asked if the government was contemplating changes to the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

 

Referring to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s remarks, Khurshid said: “I certainly think as the Prime Minister has said, we must discuss it, we must at least look at the experience of RTI. We should not just shut ourselves from all the experience of RTI, or for that matter any legislation that is essentially beneficial.”

 

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on October 14 that the transparency law needed a re-look. “There are concerns that need to be discussed and addressed honestly. A situation in which a public authority is flooded with requests for information having no bearing on public interest is something not desirable,” he said.

 

“We must, therefore, pool all our wisdom, our knowledge, and our experience to come to a conclusion on how to deal with vexatious demands for information, without… hindering the flow of information to those whose demands genuinely serve public interest.”

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karira

An editorial in timesofindia.indiatimes.com on 18 Oct 2011:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/10392566.cms

 

Shine a light

 

The government's intention to restrict the applicability of the Right to Information (RTI) legislation in certain areas such as sport and nuclear safety is puzzling. If anything, these two areas require greater transparency in light of corruption in last year's Commonwealth Games as well as the protests against nuclear power plants in Jaitapur and Kudankulam.

 

Ever since its enactment in 2005, the RTI Act has faced pressure from various government quarters to allow for greater discretion - the call for removing file notings from RTI purview has been around for sometime. However, such moves go against the very principle of open governance. Trying to circumvent the RTI law or bring in amendments to increase the scope of exceptions only betrays reluctance on the part of the government to move towards transparent functioning.

 

There is no denying that RTI has empowered people in a way previously unknown. That RTI activists have used the legislation to shed light on a plethora of scams in recent times bears testimony to the efficacy of the transparency law. In this respect, the increasing number of attacks on RTI activists is a cause for concern. Making disclosure of information automatic in such cases will act as a deterrent. Nonetheless, there is merit in the criticism that the burgeoning number of RTI applications is hampering government functioning.

 

This can be tackled by making declassification of government records a matter of routine. Transparent governance would receive a big boost if non-sensitive government records could simply be published on the Web - India can follow international best practices in this regard. In case of more sensitive information, it could be published after a predefined lapse of time.

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karira

As reported by Pallavi Ghosh in ibnlive.com.in on 18 Oct 2011:

http://ibnlive.in.com/news/upa-mulls-review-of-rti-guidelines-sources/193979-37-64.html'>http://ibnlive.in.com/news/upa-mulls-review-of-rti-guidelines-sources/193979-37-64.html

 

UPA mulls review of RTI guidelines: Sources

 

New Delhi: Days after the Prime Minister suggested a review of the RTI Act, the Centre now appears to be getting cagey about information sharing. After the recent embarrassing RTI revelations, the government has now decided to frame new guidelines.

 

CNN-IBN has learnt that all RTI replies prepared by junior officers will now have to be vetted by a senior officer, preferably of the Joint Secretary rank.

 

Among the changes considered, sources say that the RTI replies will have to be brief and should not reveal much.

 

In order to contain embarrassment for the government, sources also added that sensitive file notings should first go through the concerned Ministry before being revealed.

 

It is alleged that the reasons behind this is change in guidelines are the problems faced by the UPA 2 as far as RTI is concerned.

 

Posters Note: The Video is available here:

 

http://ibnlive.in.com/news/upa-mulls-review-of-rti-guidelines-sources/193979-37-64.html

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colnrkurup

I think , in the above statement the Minister as well as the entire problem faced by govt stand exposed. As I mentioned in the above post the Ministers are scared to give written orders on their unlawful requirements and the babus won't abide by such orders without written authority. One solution the Ministers found is to bring their own men in such decisive posts. On seeing the change of wind they too play safe by putting such verbal directions in the file with adequate cross references lest they are doomed if the Minister deny such orders later.

 

This system has been working well so long as the Official Secrets Acts gave them protection. But with the advent of Right to Information Act the situation is changed. A cityzen can even inspect the files and get copies of the file notes. This situation caused all these exposure of corruption we have been seeing these days.

 

This has created the problem Mr Moily has projected above.In his own words , "Everybody will hesitate to work" ie.,The Bureaucrat will refuse to abide by verbal orders of Ministers. The Bureaucrats dare not put such verbal directions in the file notes as it is bound to get exposed. That is as good as admission by Mr.Moily that the RTI Act has created a problem that the bureaucrats hesitate to abide by their unlawful orders unless the RTI Act is amended to protect the contents of such files. Therefore Mr.Moily want the RTI Act is amended to ensure that such file notings are not exposed or the bureaucrate get little more freedom to refuse the information.

 

It seems someone has succeeded in making one of the Opposition Siva Sena MP to present a private Biill yesterday to amend the RTI Act to introduce statutory requirement for an applicant to GIVE REASONS for seeking such information. This give a loose rope to the bureaucrate to reject inconvenient application on a plea that the reason projected is not satisfactory. The glory is that the amendment even seek introducing this clause of REASON even in Section 8 as a valid reason for rejecting an application. The amendment go further seeking more detailed information on the application so that he can be located to annihilate him.

 

We can expect more such things pressing the need for RTIians to remain more vigilant.

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colnrkurup

I think the government has decided to kill the RTI Act or remove its teeth.

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ambrish.p

As reported in Dainik Jagran on 18/10/11

 

आरटीआइ में सुधार की जरूरत : मोइली

कोलकाता, जासं : सूचना का अधिकार (आरटीआइ) कानून को लेकर भ्रम की स्थिति बन गई है। केंद्रीय कंपनी मामलों के मंत्री वीरप्पा मोइली ने सोमवार को आरटीआइ कानून में सुधार की जरूरत बताई। इस कानून के दुरुपयोग और इसमें संशोधन की जरूरत संबंधी प्रधानमंत्री के बयान से मचे शोर को शांत करने के लिए केंद्रीय कानून मंत्री सलमान खुर्शीद को लगाया गया था। खुर्शीद ने इस कानून में किसी भी संशोधन से इंकार कर दिया था, लेकिन मोइली के बयान से केंद्र सरकार की मंशा को लेकर भ्रम की स्थिति पैदा हो गई है। मोइली ने कहा कि समय की मांग है कि इस कानून की खामियों की पहचान कर उस पर देशव्यापी बहस हो, ताकि उन्हें दूर किया जा सके। मोइली कोलकाता में इंडियन चेंबर ऑफ कॉमर्स द्वारा आयोजित कार्यक्रम में पत्रकारों से बात कर रहे थे। उन्होंने कहा कि आरटीआइ कानून के तहत कंपनियों को ब्लैकमेल करना एक नई फितरत बन गई है, जिस पर रोक लगाने की जरूरत है।

Source: http://in.jagran.yahoo.com/epaper/article/index.php?choice=show_article&location=13&Ep_relation=9&Ep_edition=2011-10-18&articleid=111723946271094968

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    • momita
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      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.
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      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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