PM must not dilute RTI Act: activists

Campaigners unhappy with reports that PM favours amendments


Danish Raza | March 5, 2010

RTI activists across the country are surprised by the media reports that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is in favour of amending the transparency law.

According to the reports, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi wrote to the prime minister favouring the strengthening of the Act, but Manmohan Singh in his response said there is a need for RTI amendments but all stakeholders will be consulted before any changes are made.

“It is disturbing. We have always maintained that there is no need for amendments. What we need is the proper implementation of the Act in its present form,” said Nikhil Dey, a member of the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan.

In December last year, Dey and other activists met Prithviraj Chavan, minister, Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), who assured them that no amendments would be done without consulting civil society.

“What is worrisome is that till date there has been no public discussion on amendments in the Act. Why do they always hold close-door meetings when public is the biggest stakeholder in the RTI Act?” said Venkatesh Nayak, programme coordinator, Access to Information programme, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative. 

Manish Sisodia, founder of the NGO Kabir, said that the prime minister’s views proved that he was not for transparency.

Media report say that Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan wrote to the prime minister last November seeking exemption of his office from the purview of the law especially in matters relating to appointment of judges and other related administrative decisions.

“RTI Act in the present form has proved to be an effective tool to provide such a check, and must not be diluted. Otherwise also, legislature and bureaucracy are always accountable to judiciary. The RTI Act has induced accountability to some extent in administrative side of judicial system,” RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal said.




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