After months of bickering, the UPA government has agreed to Sonia Gandhi headed National Advisory Council’s proposed changes in the government’s draft of Right To Information (RTI) rules, except removing the proviso limiting one subject in an application.
The council had opposed the Department of Personnel and Training’s (DoPT) draft RTI rules, which limited the word limit of an RTI application to 250 and prescribed new conditions for rejecting appeals before the Information Commissioners.
Magsasay award winner and NAC member Aruna Roy informed the council that there has been agreement on all issues except on “one subject matter.”
The DoPT still wants that an application should deal with only one issue, which the NAC believes can be misused by the Public Information Officers to reject RTI applications.
It wants a provision in the proposed rules that seeking information on more than one issue should not be a ground for rejection of an RTI application.
“Areas of agreement include, enhancement of word limit from 250 words to 500 words and also to drop the rules relating to abatement of RTI application upon death of applicant,” the NAC said in a statement.
This will protect the RTI activists, who have faced assault and even killed for trying to expose corruption.
The DoPT has agreed to the NAC recommendation that there should be a separate cadre for the Information Commissions and commission’s secretary should be appointed in consultation with the commissioners.
The department also agreed that any appeal with the information commissions would not be rejected on the ground of inadequate documents and the applicant not appearing in person before the commission.
NAC has agreed to the DoPT suggestion that the government should be allowed to charge up to R50 for providing information, if the postage charges are more than R50.