Can't reveal if Arun Jaitley was consulted before notes ban: FinMin

Can't reveal if Arun Jaitley was consulted before notes ban: FinMin: Earlier, PMO and RBI refused to reveal whether Arun Jaitley and CEA are consulted before notes ban...

Right to clarity

This refers to PTI report “Can’t disclose if Jaitley was consulted: FinMin” (Business Standard, March 6). The handling of RTI queries in government departments and offices including statutory bodies as also reporting of ‘RTI episodes’ by media, of late, lacks transparency and professionalism. Let us take this report as a case study.

Let us assume that the RTI query was whether the Finance Minister was ‘consulted’ before Prime Minister’s November 8 announcement on ‘legal tender status’ of  Rs1000 and  Rs500 currency notes. It was known that there was a Cabinet Meeting which considered the issue preceding PM’s announcement. Is there a doubt about FM’s attendance at that meeting? If FM had indeed attended that meeting, is the query about what transpired in the meeting? Who should have ‘consulted’ FM and in what manner? Can anyone use RTI route to enforce procedures outside the law of the land?

The introduction of the name of RTI activist Shailesh  Gandhi with a ‘former Central Information Commissioner’ tag gives some credibility to the story and perhaps reduces the chances that the reader may apply his own mind to independently analyse and understand things.

Perhaps, it is time for designated officers under RTI Act to think of some common code to ensure that the queries are not just evaded under some pretext or another. Professional and timely responses to RTI queries and exposing queries that are raised for gaining political mileage or bringing disrepute to government or organizations by fueling controversies on flimsy grounds will go a long way in restoring the credibility of RTI Act as an instrument integral in democratic processes.
M G Warrier, Mumbai


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