Transparency limited by word count

The draft RTI rule is stifling

danish

Danish Raza | February 7, 2011



“It is very much possible to write an RTI application in 250 words,” a lawyer friend recently told me. He even showed me a few applications that he had drafted. All within the stipulated 250 words, as mandated by a draft RTI rule proposed by the department of personnel and training (DoPT) for applications demanding information from government offices.

It was disconcerting to note that somebody who had been using the legislation in  larger public interest seemed in favour of this word restriction.

“The law has just completed five years. It is catching on as a tool of empowerment. Is it appropriate to attach riders to it at this stage?” I asked him.

He replied, much like the department which has proposed the limit in the first place, “Long queries have nothing but explanations in them while the idea is just to write pointed questions demanding information. Lengthy applications waste the resources of the applicant as well as that of the government.” He added that 250 words was a reasonable limit and that applications could easily be drafted within this limit.

Before he could quite finish, I got a call from one of the NGOs working for greater transparency through the RTI Act. “What the hell are they doing? They are killing the Act," the person on the other side said furiously, "How can they expect someone living in a remote corner of the country to adhere to the word limit while writing RTI application?”

He went on, “What does the government want? First, it makes such a law, and then wants to take the spirit out of it.”

I offered him my lawyer friend's argument. He interrupted, “Look, we can surely tell people to make the applications as short as possible. But to put a word limit and rejecting applications which exceed this word limit is completely unfair. You tell me. Should my application be rejected if it has 251 words in it?”

While both the lawyer and the NGO activist sounded reasonable in their arguments, the fact remains that every complainant in the country is not educated, let alone a lawyer used to drafting applications. It is this vast majority that needs to be empowered through the RTI Act. And it is this majority that will suffer on account of the draft rule mandating the 250-word limit.

Comments

 

Other News

NCP’s Ajit Pawar is LoP in Maharashtra assembly

After the Bharatiya Janta Party orchestrated rebellion in the Shiv Sena partly led by Eknath Shinde who took away with him a majority of MLAs, the Eknath Shinde-BJP government proved majority in the state assembly floor test, crossing  the midway mark (144) getting 164 votes in their favour. The Natio

Why sanitation should matter to you

How many times a day do you flush the toilet? This number is probably between five and eight times for an average person. How many times a day do you spare a thought towards what happens to the human waste after you flush it away? The answer to this is likely to be close to zero for most people.

Who is Eknath Shinde, the auto driver who became CM?

Hailing from Satara district of Maharashtra, Eknath Sambhaji Shinde had to leave his education midway to financially support his family. He worked as an auto rickshaw driver, a lorry driver and also said to have worked in a brewery before he came in contact with Anand Dighe, Shiv Sena’s Thane unit pr

Metro 3 car shed to stay at Aarey, say new CM Shinde

Former Maharashtra chief minister Davendra Fadnavis stunned all at a press conference Thursday and named Eknath Shinde, the rebel MLA from Shiv Sena, as the next chief minister. Though Fadnavis said he would stay out of the government, a few hours later the BJP leadership announced he would be the deputy c

Uddhav Thackeray resigns as chief minister of Maharashtra

Minutes after the Supreme Court ordered a floor test on Wednesday night, Uddhav Thackeray in a televised address resigned as the chief minister of Maharashtra and also as a member of legislative council (MLC). He later drove down to Raj Bhavan and tendered his resignation to the governor Bhagat Singh Koshi

Gig workforce expected to expand to 2.35 crore by 2029-30

The gig economy has arrived in India, as the Covid-19 pandemic has propelled a flexibility of employment. As many as 77 lakh workers were engaged in the gig economy, constituting 2.6% of the non-agricultural workforce or 1.5% of the total workforce in India. The gig workforce is expected to expand to 2.35

Visionary Talk: Sanjay Pandey, Mumbai Police Commissioner with Kailashnath Adhikari, MD, Governance Now


Archives

Current Issue

Opinion

Facebook    Twitter    Google Plus    Linkedin    Subscribe Newsletter

Twitter