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  1. Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, Jitendra Singh was scheduled to introduce the Bill in the Rajya Sabha in the post-lunch session on Thursday. Though he was present in the House, the government decided not to introduce it as the Congress and other Opposition parties were against the amendments being moved on the grounds that these would dilute the 2005 Act. Sources said the government suggested that the Opposition allow the Bill to be introduced and then sent to a Select Committee of the Upper House. But since the Opposition did not relent, the government deferred the introduction till the time a consensus on the fate of the Bill could be reached. The amendment Bill seeks to change the clause dealing with the term of the Chief Information Commissioner and the Information Commissioners and the State CICs and state ICs. As of now, they get a term of five years from the date they assume office. The Bill states this would be changed to a "term as may be prescribed by the Central government”. This would give the Centre the discretion to terminate the service of the CIC, ICs and the state CICs and ICs in case they do not conform to the will of the government. The Bill also states that the salaries and allowances of the CIC, ICs, state CIC and state ICs shall be such as may be prescribed by the Central government. Though the amendment also maintains that salaries and allowances and other conditions of service of these officials shall not be varied to their disadvantage after their appointment, the government can reduce it for future appointees. As of now, the CIC and ICs get the salary equal to that of the Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioner respectively. In the states, the state CIC gets the salary of the Election Commissioner and the state ICs get the salary of the Chief Secretary. The Opposition does not agree with the NDA government’s view that the salary of the CIC and information commissioners should be reduced as this is equal to that of a judge of the Supreme Court.
  2. Government has deferred the introduction of the Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2018 in the wake of reservations from the Opposition over changes in clauses related to the tenure of Information Commissioners and their salaries and allowances. Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, Jitendra Singh was scheduled to introduce the Bill in the Rajya Sabha in the post-lunch session on Thursday. Though he was present in the House, the government decided not to introduce it as the Congress and other Opposition parties were against the amendments being moved on the grounds that these would dilute the 2005 Act. Sources said the government suggested that the Opposition allow the Bill to be introduced and then sent to a Select Committee of the Upper House. But since the Opposition did not relent, the government deferred the introduction till the time a consensus on the fate of the Bill could be reached. The amendment Bill seeks to change the clause dealing with the term of the Chief Information Commissioner and the Information Commissioners and the State CICs and state ICs. As of now, they get a term of five years from the date they assume office. The Bill states this would be changed to a "term as may be prescribed by the Central government”. This would give the Centre the discretion to terminate the service of the CIC, ICs and the state CICs and ICs in case they do not conform to the will of the government. The Bill also states that the salaries and allowances of the CIC, ICs, state CIC and state ICs shall be such as may be prescribed by the Central government. Though the amendment also maintains that salaries and allowances and other conditions of service of these officials shall not be varied to their disadvantage after their appointment, the government can reduce it for future appointees. As of now, the CIC and ICs get the salary equal to that of the Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioner respectively. In the states, the state CIC gets the salary of the Election Commissioner and the state ICs get the salary of the Chief Secretary. The Opposition does not agree with the NDA government’s view that the salary of the CIC and information commissioners should be reduced as this is equal to that of a judge of the Supreme Court. View full entry
  3. Shrawan

    RTI Anthem published by DoPT

    RTI Anthem/Video launched by Department of Personnel & Training, Government of India
  4. RTI Anthem/Video launched by Department of Personnel & Training, Government of India View full record
  5. An RTI query by journalism student Saurav Das exposed that the department of personnel and training has neither taken any concrete measures to fill up the existing vacancies nor initiated efforts to advertise for other positions that will fall vacant by the year-end. Central public information officer and under-secretary (personnel and training) Rajbir Singh, while replying to Das’ query, said the department had initiated the process of appointing two information commissioners (whose tenures ended in December 2016 and February 2017) in August 2016 and published an advertisement on the department’s website. However, the department, which received 225 applications, delayed the selection process for more than one year. Finally, after a prolonged delay, it sent the file to the cabinet secretary four months ago. The file has been pending with the cabinet secretary since then, Das said. Singh admitted that the department had not initiated any selection process for two more information commissioner posts that fell vacant in September last year and January this year. Also, Das said, the department had not even published an advertisement seeking applications from eligible candidates for the vital posts in the commission.
  6. In what could be a relief to thousands of RTI Activist and Information seekers, Kolkata high court has allowed use of post box in filing RTI which shall enable contact of a user with the authority without revealing personal details of the information seeker. You do not need to worry about your safety when Post Box is there. Also you do not need anybody else to file RTI on your behalf. DoPT in its circular dated 8th January 2014 has forwarded the circular to all ministries to allow the use of Post Box as a valid communication medium between an applicant and authority. The circular is available here! “41 Paisa per day, secure your privacy each day”, and avail the Post Box from India Post. In what could be a game changer there would be heavy demand for Post boxes across India to avail the near anonymous RTI filing. Post Box is available at Rs. 150/- per year on rent and any citizen can request to his nearest postmaster to avail this facility. Once you avail this facility, you address shall be only your name, PO Box number, Post Office Name and PIN code. Your real address shall be hidden and authorities cannot verify the address of yours, though they can communicate to you easily. Section 6 (2) of the RTI Act states that: "(2) An applicant making request for information shall not be required to give any reason for requesting the information or any other personal details except those that may be necessary for contacting him." RTI Activist safety at only 41 Paisa High court of Kolkata stated that "when the legislature thought it fit, the applicant need not disclose any personal details, the authority should not insist upon his detailed whereabouts, particularly when Post Box number is provided for that would establish contact with him and the authority." The High court asked Secretary DOPT to circulate this to all concerned and to take appropriate measure to hide information with regards to personal details of the Activist to avoid any harassment by the person having vested interest. We have a detailed article on Post Box which shall clarify all the doubts about using it at our sister portal nationalconcerns.com here: What is Post Box? Kindly download the article here and spread this information: Here is the direct link to downloading the article.
  7. Department of Personnel and Training , Director IR has invited views/suggestions from the citizens on the draft guidelines regarding elements that a RTI reply should essentially contain by 16.04.2015. through email at usrti-dopt@nic.in. You can visit our forum here and post your views/suggestion for improvement. The draft format has been vetted by Ministry of Law and Justice and contains following elements: The name, designation, official telephone number and email ID of the CPIO In case the information requested for is denied, detailed reasons for denial quoting the relevant sections of the RTI Act should be clearly mentioned. In case the information pertains to other public authority and the application is transferred under section 6 (3) of the RTI Act, details of the public authority to whom the application is transferred should be given. In the concluding para of the reply, it should be clearly mentioned that the First Appeal, if any, against the reply of the CPIO may be made to the First Appellate Authority within 30 days of receipts of reply of CPIO. The name, designation, address, official telephone number and e-mail ID of the First Appellate Authority should also be clearly mentioned. In addition, wherever the applicant has requested for 'certified copies' of the documents or records, the CPIO should endorse on the document "True copy of the document/record". sign the document with date, above a seal containing name of the officer, CPIO (in place of designation) and name of public authority. Standard format of RTI reply What are your views. Will this help in getting better reply? Kindly post it over our forum here, and we will forward them to DoPT. Download the Standard format of RTI reply circulated by DoPT.
  8. The list, circulated by the department of personnel & training to the heads of all such institutes, includes Sisodia as a guest speaker on the subject of "RTI" and identifies him merely as "Chief functionary" of Kabir, an NGO founded by him. Read at: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/Manish-Sisodia-figures-in-DoPT-list-of-eminent-persons/articleshow/46750164.cms
  9. The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) has issued a circular seeking views and suggestions of citizens on the format a public information officer (PIO) should follow while replying to an RTI application. Read at: DoPT seeks suggestion on format of PIO reply | Latest News & Updates at Daily News & Analysis
  10. DoPT has issued an OM directing all Central Government Ministries and departments to uplaod the following information on their websites: 1. Working hours 2. Holidays list 3. Public dealing hours (if any) The OM is attached to this post. DoPT OM on working hours and holiday list.pdf
  11. The Centre has announced that it would provide financial aid to states to set up facilities for online filing of applications under the Right to Information (RTI) Act and others initiatives aimed at simplification and promotion of the transparency law. A fund of up to Rs 3lakh for celebration of RTI Week (October 5-12) and Rs four lakh for innovative awareness generation programme through street plays, folk troupes etc has been earmarked by the Department of Personnel and Training (D .. Read more: Centre announces grant for states to simplify RTI process - The Economic Times
  12. also pls let me know who is the sanctioning authority for an officers post(group A) in the central government organisation(Civil/defence) info by RTI (Proposal put up for sanction of a particular post by the employer specifically in defence) or will this b treated as secret info?
  13. rtiindia

    Safety of Activist

    Guidelines for the safety of RTI Activists issued by MHA. Download the guidelines available here at our portal: http://www.rtiindia.org/forum/123211-new-download-dopt-reply-security-rti-activists.htmlIn the RTI filed by our team member Ambrish Pandey, DoPT has replied that Central Government can only make a request to state Governments to ensure the safety of people. No directions can be given on the issue by Government of India.
  14. Dear All Latest success stories in the field of RTI are invited from general public & Civil Society Organization located in the Himachal Pradesh to be presented at regional workshop on 30th November 2013 by DOP&T. 5 Best Success Stories will be awarded rs 5000/- each Interested citizens or NGO can post the briefs of their stories here and subsequently selected stories will be considered for the presentation & will be sent the invitation for the same.
  15. RTI reply through Registered Post AD or Speed Post is what the Central Information Commission and State Information Commission has been insisting. The reply through ordinary mail should not be resorted too. Neither there should be compulsion to RTI Applicant to collect the information from the Public Offices. In the recent order by Karnataka Information Commission, in the case "Sri M. S. Kumaraswamy vs. PIO & Assistant Executive Engineer, BBMP, Whitefield Sub-division, Bangalore", noted that "the Respondent has now provided the information which has been handed over to the unauthorized person without obtaining the acknowledgement. Commission noted that in several instances the officers and officials of Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike have handed over the information to the unauthorized persons other than the applicants or to the authorized persons. Further, the Commission has already stated that there is no need to applicants to go over to the Government offices and the Public Information Officer / public authority should send the information either through the speed post or RPAD. This should be scrupulously followed." Earlier CIC has already ordered in the decision as far as 31st December 2008 that: "There have been instances where the Appellants have complained that they had not received the reply sent by the Respondents. In fact, yesterday too in a case dealing with the Railways (Nos. CIC/OK/C/2008/273 & 274) there was a similar complaint and the Respondents replied that they had sent the reply through ordinary mail. The Commission directs them to ensure that replies to all RTI-applications are henceforth sent by speed post/registered post." RTI reply through Registered Post AD or Speed Post As per the forum post here, Sh. G.L.N. Prasad states that "Act stipulates that the Onus of proof that information was provided rests on PIO and this burden compels them to send communications only through Regd., Post." On the reaction to PIO sending reply by ordinary post, Sh sharadphadke states that: "In one RTI to Bombay High Court, though a stamped envelop was sent for information they put same amount of stamps back side. i.e. duplication in stamps. First appeal on the same subject was passed after reminder and by ordinary post." "Even god will not be able to put we Indians on track, there will be something missing." The Activist have noted that there is no Office Memorandum by Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) regarding RTI reply through Registered Post AD or Speed Post. Sh NARAYAN DAS in the forum post here has stated that "I have requested to DoPT to issue a proper OM in this respect to all central and state offices on 19.08.2013 with ref. to cic decision but no action taken in this respect." What do you think? Should the RTI reply through Registered Post AD or Speed Post be the norm? Post your views in the forum here!
  16. I had requested for information from Department of XXXXX through "rtionline" portal of DOPT. After 25 days i was informed that required information has been sent to address through speed post without mentioning any docket or speed post number. It is 10 days from now and i have not received it. Please suggest me the next course of action need to be taken from my side.
  17. In a recent order, the FAA of CIC has reiterated that Post Offices are not designated APIO's for the CIC. Therefore a RTI application to the CIC cannot be submitted through a Post Office. But strangely, the FAA has taken the stand that the 30 days mandatory period for the PIO of CIC to provide information is not the date of receipt in CIC, is also not the date of diarizing in the CIC BUT the date on which the RTI application is received in the PIO's unit ! http://cic.gov.in/CIC-Orders/FAAD_17022010_01.pdf 4. At this stage, it may be clarified that the Commission in the case of Shri D.P. Verma Vs. Central Information Commission decided vide CIC/WB/A/2007/1193 dated 22.11.2007 and CIC/WB/A/2008/00259 dated 18.1.2008 has held that “the Post Office is a Public Authority other than the CIC and Post Master has not been designated under section 5 as APIO of the Commission.” 5. The present application was received in the Commission on 5.1.2010 as per the stamp on its envelope and was diarized on 12.1.2010. It was ultimately replied by Shri Pankaj Shreyaskar on 5.2.2009 and the reply was dispatched on 8.2.2009. Admittedly, there are systemic delays, but as far as the CPIO who replied is concerned he has replied within 30 days of the receipt of application by his unit. As such the delay cannot be attributed to him. It is therefore incumbent upon the Public Authority to do a systemic introspection and remove bottlenecks that cause delay in disposing of RTI applications. ========== Having been to the CIC many times, the PIO's unit is basically his desk !
  18. The disclosure of APAR (Annual Performance Appraisal Report) of Government official has been the hot topic after the implementation of the RTI (Right to Information) Act was passed in 2005. Various RTI have been filed to obtain the APAR from the Government organisations. It has been established that the APAR is to be revealed to the individual for whom it has been written. You may go through this discussions here! [caption id=attachment_33" align="alignright" width="300] The APAR of Government Officer[/caption] The ACR (now APAR) is to be disclosed to the officer reported upon only. Except Military Officers, all other officers are entitled to get copy of their own ACR/APAR. ACR/APAR cannot be disclosed to third party. PDF copy of Judgment is available in below link: SUPREME COURT - Dev Dutt's case : SUPREME COURT ON ACR - DEV DUTT Vs UoI 12-5-2008.pdf FULL BENCH CIC DECISION ON DISCLOSURE OF ACR/APAR - CIC - ACRs NOT DISCLOSABLE TO 3RD PARTY -- EPFO Vs MRUDULA GHAI - CIC-SM-C-2011-000934-M-66093 d.pdf As per Supreme Court (DB) judgment in Dev Dutt case (Civil Appeal No.7631 of 2002), ACRs are disclosable only to the officer(s) to whom they belong. These cannot be provided to third party. (Read para-39 of the Judgment). However, the latest one is the decision of Hone'ble SC (3rd Oct, 2012 SLP (Civil) No. 27734 of 2012 G R Deshpande Vs CIC ), where Hon'ble SC has clearly said that, unless a larger public interest is involved, APAR (earlier ACR) can not be disclosed to third party. {The performance of an employee/officer in an organization is primarily a matter between the employee and the employer and normally those aspects are governed by the service rules which fall under the expression “personal information”, the disclosure of which has no relationship to any public activity or public interest. On the other hand, the disclosure of which would cause unwarranted invasion of privacy of that individual. Of course, in a given case, if the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer of the Appellate Authority is satisfied that the larger public interest justifies the disclosure of such information, appropriate orders could be passed but the petitioner cannot claim those details as a matter of right.... ......We are, therefore, of the view that the petitioner has not succeeded in establishing that the information sought for is for the larger public interest. That being the fact, we are not inclined to entertain this special leave petition. Hence, the same is dismissed. } Apex court - APAR cannot be disclosed to third party if overriding public interest is not established
  19. [caption id=attachment_21" align="alignright" width="252] Suo Moto Disclosure of information under Right to Information in India[/caption] Suo Motu Disclosure- Can DoPT latest guidelines improve RTI? Suo Motu Disclosure under Section 4 of RTI Act, 2005: DoPT has issued a latest guidelines for Suo Motu Disclosure for Government Departments named as Implementation of suo motu disclosure under Section 4 of RTI Act, 2005. It is expected that as these are very exhaustive guidelines and if followed by the Public Authority, will reduce the number of RTI applications it needs to reply. Read the order here! But these guidelines were issued earlier too. Do guidelines have any enforceability? As far as the RTI Act is concerned, Public Authority cannot be held responsible for Sec 4 implementation or non compliance of Sec 4 implementation. Under Section 4 (1) (a) of the Right to Information act 2005, all public authorities are suppose to maintain all their records duly catalogued and indexed in a manner that facilitates the Right to Information. Also Under Section 4(2) of the Right to Information act 2005, all public authorities have to suo motu disclose information pertaining to their functioning as per the 17 points listed under Section 4(1) (b) Also we ponder- who is to enforce implementation of Sec 4 ?
  20. In a recent order (interim) the CIC has issued a "Show Cause Notice" for penalty to two DoPT officers and also threatened action under Sec 166, 187 and 188 of the IPC. The matter involves the removal of the controversial statement in the FAQ available on DoPT website regarding file notings. Based on the said statement, DoPT denied file notings to an applicant. CIC ordered disclsoure. DoPT ignored it. The appellant complained about non compliance. DoPT stated that the matter was put up before the committee of secretaries and under their consideration. CIC has come down heavily on DoPT. The full order is attached to this post. NOTE - Sections of IPC being invoked: 166. Public servant disobeying law, with intent to cause injury to any person Whoever, being a public servant, knowingly disobeys any direction of the law as to the way in which he is to conduct himself as such public servant, intending to cause, or knowing it to be likely that he will, by such disobedience, cause injury to any person, shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both. Illustration A, being an officer directed by law to take property in execution, in order to satisfy a decree pronounced in Z's favour by a Court of Justice, knowingly disobeys that direction of law, with the knowledge that he is likely thereby to cause injury to Z. A has committed the offence defined in this section. 187. Omission to assist public servant when bound by law to give assistance Whoever, being bound by law to render or furnish assistance to any public servant in the execution of his public duty, intentionally omits to give such assistance, shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to one month, or with fine which may extend to two hundred rupees, or with both; and if such assistance be demanded of him by a public servant legally competent to make such demand for the purposes of executing any process lawfully issued by a Court of Justice, or of preventing the commission of an offence, or of suppressing a not, or affray, or of apprehending a person charged with or guilty of an offence, or of having escaped from lawful custody, shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine which may extend to five hundred rupees, or with both. 188. Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant Whoever, knowing that, by an order promulgated by a public servant lawfully empowered to promulgate such order, he is directed to abstain from a certain act, or to take certain order with certain property in his possession or under his management, disobeys such direction, shall, if such disobedience causes to tender to cause obstruction, annoyance or injury, or risk of obstruction, annoyance or injury, to any person lawfully employed, be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to one month or with fine which may extend to two hundred rupees, or with both; and if such disobedience causes or trends to cause danger to human life, health or safety, or causes or tends to cause a not or affray, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees, or with both. Explanation- It is not necessary that the offender should intend to produce harm, or contemplate his disobedience as likely to produce harm. It is sufficient that he knows of the order which he disobeys, and that his disobedience produces, or is likely to produce, harm. Illustration An order is promulgated by a public servant lawfully empowered to promulgate such order, direction that a religious procession shall not pass down a certain street. A knowingly disobeys the order, and thereby causes danger of not. A has committed the offence defined in this section WB-02062009-01.pdf
  21. As reported by Santosh Tiwari at business-standard.com on September 25, 2011 Investigating and law enforcement agencies are concerned over the growing number of attempts to misuse Right to Information (RTI) to settle personal scores and animosities, and make personal gains. A senior official from one of the investigating agencies told Business Standard that serious concerns were raised in several meetings convened by the government with the Income Tax Department, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and others in the recent past. “It has been pointed out that steps are needed to balance the RTI provisions, privacy concerns and protection of individuals and institutions from misuse of any information acquired through RTI,” the official said. He added, the discussion on the proposed Right to Privacy Bill had been broadened to cover this aspect. “It has also been felt that the RTI Act should have provisions so that frivolous complaints and RTI applications are dealt with a firm hand,” he said. The issue was also part of the meeting of the officials from these agencies and also from the concerned ministries, including the ministry of home affairs, called by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) this week. CBI, the Enforcement Directorate (ED), the investigation wing of the Income Tax department, the Narcotics Control Bureau, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) and Delhi Police are all concerned. “It has been seen that the RTI Act is often misused for settling personal scores and grudges,” the official said. The applications aimed at misusing RTI have emerged as a major problem in the dowry and income tax related cases. Outlining the problem, a senior Income Tax official said: “Earlier people would send complaint against an individual first and then file RTI to get the details about tax payments and income. The situation has changed. The complaint and the RTI are coming together and they demand information within a month.” The investigating agencies have stressed that the endeavour to derail critical investigations by seeking information through RTI is emerging as a big issue, the official said. “If the official handling the RTI application is amenable to manipulation, the results could be dangerous,” he added. Explaining the extent of the problem, he said in one of the RTI applications it had been demanded that information should be provided on the postings of a particular army official in different armed forces bases.
  22. NEW DELHI: Magsaysay awardee, Arvind Kejriwal, has returned to the Central Information Commission with the case that provoked the abortive attempt to pull file notings out of the ambit of the Right to Information Act. Reason: despite its promise to CIC five months ago, the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) has failed to disclose the manner in which senior bureaucratic appointments are being made. In his complaint to CIC filed on December 12, Kejriwal alleged that DoPT had avoided giving information relating to appointments at the level of secretary and additional secretary by claiming that those details were actually available with the cabinet secretariat. But even if DoPT officials really did not have records on senior appointments, Kejriwal pointed out that they were required by the RTI Act, in such a situation, to transfer his request to the cabinet secretariat, along with CIC's July 14 order directing disclosure of information within a month. Besides seeking a fresh direction to the cabinet secretariat on information relating to appointments at the level of secretary and additional secretary, Kejriwal requested CIC to issue penalty notices to DoPT officials for not complying with its July 14 order. A former IRS officer, Kejriwal first asked for such sensitive information from DoPT more than a year ago under RTI to see whether the officers selected for the level of secretary and additional secretary in various ministries fulfil the prescribed criterion of "specific suitability", despite being drawn mainly from the generalist stream of IAS. Kejriwal's application raised the hackles of the IAS lobby which saw it as an attempt to expose their monopoly over all top posts, regardless of their suitability for the increasingly technical demands of those jobs The information asked for may lay bare the manipulations that allow an officer to be posted as telecom secretary, for instance, without having any qualification or experience in that specialised field. While withholding all information pertaining to the level of secretary and additional secretary, DOPT has been less secretive with Kejriwal about appointments made at lower levels, that of joint secretary and downwards. He was allowed to inspect those files. But Kejriwal's grievance is that he was not supplied with copies of documents despite an express provision in the RTI Act for such service against payment of photocopying charges. While rejecting his request for copies of documents, DoPT cited another RTI provision which permits it to refuse on the ground that photocopying all those files would "disproportionately divert the resources of the public authority." http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/NEWS/India
  23. As reported by PTI at hindustantimes.com on September 22, 2010 The proposal for issuing a stamp of Rs 10 to be used as fee for filing applications under the Right to Information Act is pending before the Department of Posts for a year now. At present, a person has to either use a postal order or deposit Rs 10 in cash with the concerned department to get information under the Act. "CIC has received recommendation to make stamp of Rs 10 for RTI. We have forwarded a letter to Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) to act on it," Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah told PTI. The DoPT acts as nodal agency for work related to RTI Act. Many RTI activists, including Anna Hazare and Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi, had made a recommendation for such a stamp three years ago. The matter is now oscillating between the DoPT and the Postal Department. "We have received a request on making a stamp of Rs 10 for RTI. We have written a letter to DoP as they are responsible for making postal stamps," said G K Verma, Director for RTI Matters in DoPT said, adding the stamp is not ready yet. The proposed RTI stamp is to be made on the lines of Revenue Stamp and Central Revenue Fee stamp (CRFS). Activists have stressed for RTI stamp to popularise the Act and make it more effective among the masses, especially in rural areas. They want it to be available in post offices, Tehsil and Panchayat offices and banks to facilitate hassle-free implementation of Act. The money received through sale of such stamps should be utilised in creating awareness for the Act, the activists have said.
  24. Atul Patankar

    Amendments to RTI Act on the anvil

    As reported by Vidya Subrahmaniam at thehindu.com on November 14, 2009 The Department of Personnel and Training (Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievance and Pensions) has admitted that the government is considering amendments to the Right to Information Act, 2005. The admission, which came at a meeting between RTI activists and DoPT Secretary Shantanu Consul on Saturday, ended the suspense over whether or not the government was contemplating amendments to the RTI. Speculation in this regard started following a meeting that the DoPT had with Information Officers on October 14 where a proposal for the amendments was formally put on the table. However, the government refused to confirm or deny the move, leading to a growing anxiety in RTI circles. Significantly, Mr. Consul assured the delegation led by Aruna Roy of the National Campaign for People’s Right to Information (NCPRI), that the amendments will only be introduced after hearing the views and objections of civil society groups. He said the department would initiate a “transparent and consultative process,” including putting up the draft amendments on the DoPT website, to enable public and civil society participation in their implementation. Mr. Consul also said the amendments would not go through if civil society groups were able to convince the government that they were not necessary, and the purpose for which they were being considered could be met in other ways. Earlier in the day, hundreds of activists from the NCPRI and other organisations gathered at Jantar Mantar to warn the government against tinkering with the RTI Act, 2005. The delegation that met Mr. Consul presented him a letter containing their misgivings over the proposed amendments. The letter was signed. among others by Ms. Roy, Nikhil Dey and Shekhar Singh of the NCPRI and Annie Raja of the National Federation of Indian Women. The signatories said they had apprehensions that the government was moving towards amending the RTI and cited as evidence the October 14 meeting between the DoPT and Information Officers. The RTI activists also wrote to the Prime Minister on October 20, which was signed by dozens of public-spirited citizens. The letter argued that the proposed amendments — envisaging exemption from disclosure for official discussions and consultations (previously known as file notings) and prohibition of frivolous and vexatious complaints — far from strengthening the Act, as promised by the President in her June 4 address to Parliament, would in fact emasculate the Act. The letter quoted two nation-wide studies, “one done under the aegis of the government,” to make the point that RTI was constrained, not by issues being considered for amendment such as frivolous complaints and file notings, but by inadequate implementation, lack of trained staff, and poor management. There was no suggestion in either of the studies that RTI work was hampered by “frivolous or vexatious” applications or by disclosure of “file notings,” it said. The letter said: “This government gave its citizens the RTI Act, and there has been no crisis in government as a result of its enactment. In fact… its use by ordinary people is helping change its (the country’s) image to that of an open and receptive democracy. An amendment in the Act would be an obviously retrograde step, at a time when there is a popular consensus to strengthen it through rules and better implementation...” Source: The Hindu : News / National : Amendments to RTI Act on the anvil
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