Saturday, November 14, 2009

Amendments to RTI Act on the anvil

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.

Complete Article
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