The state chief secretary’s proposition to make it compulsory for an applicant to have an Aadhar (unique identity number) to seek information under the Right to Information (RTI) Act has not gone down well with chief information commissioner Ratnakar Gaikwad and activists.
Gaikwad told HT on Tuesday that chief secretary JK Banthia had not spoken to him about the issue.
“The legal position is very clear. Any citizen can seek information under the RTI, irrespective of whether he has an Aadhar card or not. RTI and Aadhar are not inter-related or interdependent unless the Act is suitably amended, he said.
Addressing a workshop on RTI at Mantralaya on Friday, Banthia had said: “There are many complaints about the Act being misused. Officials must ask applicants to mention their Aadhaar number,” he told the gathering.
Banthia’s missive was circulated by the Information Department through their official release.
RTI activists called this yet another attempt to discourage people from seeking information.
“Last year, the government stipulated that any request for information must not exceed 150 words, should be related to only one subject matter and separate applications must be filed if the query pertains to more than one topic,” said activist Anil Galgali.
Calling Banthia’s missive ‘irresponsible,’ Galgali said: “The chief secretary must know that many don’t have their Aadhar number yet, and even if they do, they can’t be compelled to do something not mandated by the Act.”
Banthia did not respond to repeated attempts to reach him. PS Meena, Principal secretary, general administrative department, said no orders to this effect were issued till date.