In a big decision, Central Information Commission have brought Ministers under RTI and declared Ministers in the Union Government and all State Governments as ‘public authorities’ under Section 2(h)of the RTI Act. The Ministers have a duty to inform the people about their efforts to fulfill the promises they have made, through Section 4(1)(b) of RTI Act and also to furnish the information as sought by their voters under other provisions of RTI Act. The commission has directed that a Public Information Officer within two months from the date of receipt of this order be appointed with each Minister Office.
The Commission strongly recommends to implement the recommendations of NCRWC, Second ARC and replace the ‘oath of secrecy’ with ‘oath of transparency” so that the Minister will respect the right to information of the citizen, which was passed by the Parliament and considered as fundamental right intrinsic in Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution, and be answerable/accountable to the citizens.
Ministers under RTI
The question can came in front of CIC was
Is ‘Minister’ a ‘public authority’?
The Commission strongly recommended the Centre and States to provide necessary support to each minister, including designating some officers, or appointing as Public Information Officers and First Appellate Authorities. They also shall be given an official website for suo moto disclosure of the information with periodical updating as prescribed under Section 4 including the facility of meeting people since the Ministers deserve necessary assistance to receive, acknowledge and provide response to the representations given by the people and as Constitutional functionaries, the Ministers have a duty to inform the people about their efforts to fulfill the promises they have made, through Section 4(1)(b) of RTI Act and also to furnish the information as sought by their voters under other provisions of RTI Act.