Letters: Don't belittle the RTI | Business Standard Letters

Letters: Don't belittle the RTI | Business Standard Letters

Don't belittle the RTI

With reference to Nivedita Mookerji's article, "Off day doesn't figure in Modi's lexicon" (December 19), the approach of the Prime Minister's Office to questions raised under the (RTI) Act, as listed in the article, deserves appreciation.

The Act has been a milestone in the democratic process of governance in India. Next only to Question Hour in legislatures, the Act has helped improvein the working of government and other organisations.

But last week's Supreme Court verdict that affects theand some other banks, and Mookerji's report, which gives an idea about the kind of questions that are raised under RTI, make one feel that there is little clarity in the minds of people, who use the powers of the Act. A couple of issues need further debate.

While citizens' right to information has to be protected at any cost, this right cannot override laws enacted before and after Independence. I am referring to the impression being created after the top court's verdict about making public information obtained by regulators and supervisors of institutions. In such cases, the provisions relating to secrecy in statutes should be revisited.

The extent to which such information is shared, the manner in which it is shared and with whom should be clarified. This should not be confused with provisions of the RTI Act or powers of the(CIC).

The type of questions under the RTI that the PMO has had to field borders on abuse of provisions of the Act. To arrest this trend, the could consider allowing government departments and statutory bodies to transfer questions, which prima facie are of a probing nature and have no direct relevance to their working, to the CIC. The CIC may screen such questions in a time-bound manner and send back the questions that need to be answered to the departments.

M G Warrier Mumbai


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