NO DILUSION OF RTI ACT

Dear Dr. Manmohan Singh, Hon'ble Prime Minister of India (& Minister for Personnel, PG and Pensions) New Delhi Dear Sir, It has been reported in Media that the Department of Personnel & Training (DoPT) is planning to dilute the RTI Act by following means: 1. By resisting access to file notings except those dealing with social and development issues 2. Restricting access to pending policy decisions, cabinet documents and exam related documents. 3. Increasing RTI fees substantially. 4. Anonymity to decision maker It is however brought to your notice that the opening statement of the RTI Act already carry the apprehensions as expressed by DoPT now. The statement reads "And whereas revelation of information in actual practice is likely to conflict with other public interests including efficient operations of the Governments, optimum use of limited fiscal resources and the preservation of confidentiality of sensitive information; And whereas it is necessary to harmonise these conflicting interests while preserving the paramountcy of the democratic ideal" In above light I want to bring the following to your kind attention: 1. The Parliament has already debated in length that there will be issues of conflict of public interest, there will issues of optimum use of resources and the confidentiality of sensitive information. However after debating these issues the Parliament has mentioned that despite these conflicting interests - the preservation of democratic ideals is the most important. Therefore any amendment as proposed will shake the foundation of democratic principles on which this Act was passed by the Parliament. Therefore the restriction on file notings which is against the principle of transparency in democracy should not be included. 2. Rrestriction on pending policy matter is also debatable as on one hand the Government states that they want citizen participation and on other it restricts him to even know what policy matters the Government is debating. Instead of putting the policy matters online for feedback the Government is trying to restrict it. 3. As regards anonymity we need to understand why do the Officers want anonymity at all Are they scared to discharge their duty without fear If they are not discharging their duty without fear then they are not fulfilling the pledge they take while joining the Government Service and if so their services must be terminated with immediate effect. 4. DoPT sources have further given the following reasons for the increase in fees as it will discourage "chronic and motivated information seekers". It is also suggested that citizens should be made to pay for the salary of the officers working on RTI besides the amount for photocopying or accessing the information sought. But relevant questions: a. What is the source of salary for every Government Servant Is it not the taxes paid by citizens. Then why should he pay again Will the officers accept that they get a salary directly from citizens in the proportion to the work they do for during citizens interface b. what is termed as chrolic and motivated information seekers are the indiviuals who are actually trying to expose various irregularities in the departments. Why the Government Officers scared if they have done nothing wrong c. Is answering the queries taking a lot of your time - organize / digitize your records or better make as much possible information as proactive disclosure. d. Read the sections 4(1) (a), 7(9), 26(1) wherein the Act has itself defined where the constrains in case of resources can be highlighted and not in any case to assimilate the information. It is respectfully prayed that the democratic principles on which the above act was passed should remain intact and steps should be taken for proper implementation of the above act. regards, Sameer Sachdeva Proposal to exempt file notings may leave RTI toothless (refer TOI dated 19 Jun 2009)

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