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Diluting Right to Information Act

Diluting Right to Information Act

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Published by: chittaranjan.kaul6122 on Jun 19, 2012
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06/19/2012

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Diluting Right to Information Act means going back to the Bad Old Days
The Central Right to Information (RTI) Act came into force on Oct 12 throughout the country. InMaharashtra, the state RTI Act has been in force for the last few years, and the new central actreplaces it. A lot of people have used it to try to bring some measure of accountability to a callousbureaucracy and a criminal political class. The experience of Maharashtra residents has shownhow useful for good governance an effective RTI Act can be.We, in Hiranandani Gardens, have found it an invaluable tool in our efforts to preserve theenvironment and the beauty of our complex. We have been able to requisition copies of government approvals which have made it much easier to trace the birth of bad decisions. Alarmed by how effective the Act can be in calling those responsible to account, those affected aretrying furiously to return to the bad old days. The efforts started even before the new law came intoeffect. The bureaucracy (the Department of Personnel and Training of the Central Government) hastaken the first step in this direction. Its website declares that “file notings” (the place where thebureaucrat reveals his mind) are not covered by the RTI. Now the politicians are reported to begetting ready to do their bit by actually bringing an amendment to the Act which would exempt suchnotings from being requisitioned.This is nonsensical. If the citizen cannot find out what grounds the decision-makers put forth for taking a particular decision, how can the process be subjected to a healthy, democratic scrutiny.Experience has long shown that the notings are specious, rest on flimsy assumptions and are oftenserve the deeper, unsaid, corrupt agenda that the decision-maker has. They can be so becausethere has been, until now, no danger of their being challenged.We must protest this flagrant undermining of citizens’ rights in a country that calls itself the world’slargest democracy. The argument will be made that the decision-makers need a sense of confidentiality to take decisions without fearing reprisals. This would be a convincing argument if the cover had not been used for decades in our country to oppress people, to transfer publicmonies to private pockets, and to deprive the common man of basic justice. The argument mightwork when the state has demonstrated its credentials as a benign guide to its citizens. In India, itdoes not work. At least, not yet.I urge all readers to write to the senior-most decision makers in the country to protest this move.Only a significant opposition will convince them that it is unacceptable to the people at large. Thoseof us who have the ability to write and speak owe a responsibility to those who are oppressed evenmore, but are unable to make themselves heard.The contact details of some of these people are given below:1) Dr. Manmohan SinghPrime Minister of IndiaRoom No. 152, South BlockNew Delhi - 110011Fax: (011) 23016857/23019545Email: pmosd@pmo.nic.in2) Mr. Suresh PachouriMinister of State for Personnel and Public GrievancesMinistry of Personnel, Public Grievances & PensionRoom No. 102, North BlockNew Delhi - 110001Fax: (011) 23092716Email: yes_pachouri.yahoo.co.in

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