The Centre couldn’t dilute your right to information (RTI) by law. So it’s using technology to do it.
The government has slipped in a provision in its new call-centre project to restrict the electronic system from accepting information requests relating to more than two public authorities in a single application.
This is the fourth instance since 2005 — when the transparency law came into force —of attempts being made to weaken RTI.
The Centre had tried to notify a similar provision in the RTI rules last year, seeking to restrict applications to a single subject and a 250-word limit. The PMO put the move on hold after the Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council expressed reservations.
The department of personnel & training (DoPT) revived the restriction this month. It sought bids from IT firms for setting up a call centre and a web portal to make it easier for people to file RTI requests and the government to handle these.
Laying down the process, the DoPT said that in case the information requested related to more than two public authorities, a person be asked to file another application.
While former information commissioner MM Ansari and Team Anna member Manish Sisodia called the move blatantly wrong, information campaigner Nikhil Dey said: “The online process should be used to make life easier for people, not difficult. They are using a facilitative device to weaken the law.”
The call-centre proposal also asked IT firms to keep a provision in the system to accommodate a change in rule in the future that could require RTI applicants to pay a fee to file an appeal.