Changes to RTI Act being mulled despite Sonia no
The government is considering changes in the umbrella transparency law Right To Information (RTI) Act in order to be able to reject an application on the ground of its being frivolous and to curb powers of the Central Information Commission while hearing appeals.delhi Updated: May 04, 2010 01:34 IST
The government is considering changes in the umbrella transparency law Right To Information (RTI) Act in order to be able to reject an application on the ground of its being frivolous and to curb powers of the Central Information Commission while hearing appeals.
This is despite Congress president Sonia Gandhi asking the government to refrain from making changes in the law, which has brought changes in lives of people and in overall governance.
The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), in a reply to an RTI application, has accepted that it was examining six changes in the four-year-old law. The changes are mainly to avoid “frivolous or vexatious” requests, making seeking Cabinet papers more difficult and imposing restrictions on seeking information from the office of Chief Justice of India.
In the name of empowering the commission, the government intends to stipulate that only a bench of two or more commissioners of the CIC can hear an RTI appeal. At present, individual commissioners of CIC can hear a case.
“The amendment will slow down the pace of disposal of cases,” said a CIC member, not willing to be named.
The department said it was also considering an amendment to make the law applicable to the private sector, including Non-Governmental Organisations, receiving funds from the government. The CIC has said that the private sector receiving funds from the government are covered under RTI.
Gandhi, in a letter to Prime Minister on November 10 last year, had said “In my opinion, there is no need for changes or amendments. The only exceptions permitted, such as national security, are already well taken care of in the legislation.”