Shah: Pro­mot­ing trans­parency to re­duce need to file RTI pleas

‘Large No. Of Pleas Doesn’t In­di­cate Govt’s Suc­cess’ Ac­tivists raise con­cerns over ‘di­lu­tion’ of law

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - Times City - TIMES NEWS NET­WORK Am­bika.Pan­[email protected] times­

New Delhi: Home min­is­ter Amit Shah on Satur­day said a large num­ber of RTI ap­pli­ca­tions do not rep­re­sent a gov­ern­ment’s suc­cess and added that the Cen­tre is work­ing to cre­ate a gov­er­nance sys­tem to en­able peo­ple with in­for­ma­tion so that they do not feel the need to file for in­for­ma­tion.

While agree­ing that the Right to In­for­ma­tion Act over a 14-year jour­ney has acted as the bridge to build pub­lic trust that was miss­ing in the gov­er­nance sys­tem, Shah said the law should be used to pro­mote trans­parency and not be used for personal rea­sons. He cited the gov­er­nance tracker dash­board in­tro­duced by PM Modi as the be­gin­ning of a new era in trans­par­ent gov­er­nance.

“For in­stance, one can go to the dash­board and see how many toi­lets have been built un­der Swachh Bharat Ab­hiyaan. Women can click on the dash­board and get to know the sta­tus as to when will they get a cook­ing gas cylin­der un­der the Ujjwala Yo­jana,” he said. He was speak­ing at the 14th an­nual con­ven­tion of the Cen­tral In­for­ma­tion Com­mis­sion in New Delhi.

Shah also urged the cen­tral in­for­ma­tion com­mis­sioner and the RTI ma­chin­ery to in­form peo­ple about steps taken so that they don’t file ap­pli­ca­tions for in­for­ma­tion al­ready avail­able in the pub­lic do­main.

He re­it­er­ated that RTI must be used ju­di­ciously and not filed to ha­rass any­one by fil­ing an ap­pli­ca­tion to de­lay a pro­mo­tion or stall a ten­der to serve some vested in­ter­ests.

Mean­while, chief in­for­ma­tion com­mis­sioner Sud­hir Bhar­gava shared the sta­tus of com­plaints to point that in 201415, 7.55 lakh com­plaints were re­ceived un­der RTI by var­i­ous gov­ern­ment de­part­ments. This num­ber rose to13.7 lakh in 2018-19. How­ever, in terms of re­jec­tion of ap­pli­ca­tions had gone down from 8.39% in 201415 to 4% in 2018-19. A com­par­i­son of the same pe­riod shows that first ap­peals are down from 10.29% to 9.29% and sec­ond ap­peal from 4.19% to 1.39%.

Even as Shah em­pha­sised on an ef­fi­cient gov­er­nance sys­tem, Cen­tral In­for­ma­tion Com­mis­sion is cur­rently work­ing with just seven in­for­ma­tion com­mis­sion­ers in­clud­ing its chief. Four posts of in­for­ma­tion com­mis­sion­ers are ly­ing va­cant which is seen to be the ma­jor cause for grow­ing pen­dency of com­plaints and ap­peals in the Com­mis­sion. As of to­day the pend­ing cases add up to over 33,000. New Delhi: As the cen­tral in­for­ma­tion com­mis­sion’s an­nual con­ven­tion marked 14 years of the RTI Act, con­cerns were raised over the im­pact and im­ple­men­ta­tion of the re­cent amend­ments to the law per­tain­ing to salaries, terms of ser­vice and ten­ure of the chief in­for­ma­tion com­mis­sioner and in­for­ma­tion com­mis­sion­ers.

Af­ter the amend­ments, the Cen­tre will now no­tify the rules de­cid­ing the salaries, terms of ser­vice and ten­ure for all in­for­ma­tion com­mis­sion­ers in the CIC and across states.

In a spe­cial ses­sion on RTI, one of the lead speak­ers on the panel, former diplo­mat turned politi­cian Pawan K Varma said, “if I were to give the gov­ern­ment ben­e­fit of doubt and even if the amend­ments are well in­ten­tioned by the gov­ern­ment, their im­pact will be ret­ro­grade.”

In the same ses­sion Prof Anurag Gan­gal from J&K Univer­sity as­serted on the need for RTI im­ple­men­ta­tion frame­work to be free of any gov­ern­ment in­ter­fer­ence.

Piyal Bhat­tachar­jee

Home min­is­ter Amit Shah at a pro­gramme to cel­e­brate Guru Nanak’s 550th birth an­niver­sary in New Delhi on Satur­day

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