Sunday, February 13, 2011

Service book of govt servant not personal: CIC

In a major decision that could spark privacy versus transparency debate, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has said the service details of a public servant are not confidential and can be provided to an RTI applicant. The country's top watchdog had earlier taken out property details and income tax returns of public servants from the ambit of confidentiality which has been
challenged in the Delhi High Court. The CIC's decision came while hearing the plea of an RTI applicant who had sought from the Railways the service book details of the Chief Law Assistant.
The applicant also sought to know if the post of Chief Law Assistant at the Chittaranjan Loco works was a tenure post.

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Right to Information act – a best thing that has ever happened to, we Indians: Let us not be frivolous or mischievous in our deeds to damage it irreversibly forever.

It is also desirous that the Act is protected from being “tinkered” by vested interests. In the recent past, there had been a vigorous campaign of “Tinkering and diluting” the Act by these interests, which was very timely put to a stop by the Hon'ble Chairperson of UPA Madam Sonia Gandhi, who wrote back to Dr. Man Mohan Singh the Hon’ble PM of India on 10th November 2009:

“The RTI Act… as one of the most effective pieces of legislation, as instrument that has empowered people and made government more responsive… Much has been achieved in these initial years and while there are still problems of implementations, RTI has begun to change the lives of our people and the ways of governance in the country. It will of course take time before the momentum generated by the Acts makes for greater transparency and accountability in the structure of the government… It is important, therefore, that we adhere to its original aims and refrain from accepting or introducing changes in the legislations on the way it is implemented that would dilute its purpose”


It is imperative that the short comings like lack of public awareness about the RTI Act; untrained information officers/appellant authorities, harassment, intimidation, threatening and killing of RTI activists be addressed immediately by our law makers whole heartedly.

The Landmark Decision is available at the Central Information Commissioners (CIC) web site @ http://rti.india.gov.in/cic_decisions/5973_IC_A__2010_M_42690.pdf  
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