India’s transparency law – Right To Information – will not change but the government wants to restrict its applicability through other laws.
Two new draft laws --- National Sports Development Bill and National Nuclear Safety Authority --- have specific provisions prohibiting disclosing information in addition to the exemption clauses already in the RTI law.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday wanted a “critical look” at these exemption clauses asking to examine changes in light of whether they serve “larger (public) good”. Law minister Salman Khurshid on Sunday ruled out any changes in the RTI law after the PM’s statement evoked strong reaction from National Advisory Council member Aruna Roy.
The draft sports law readied by Sports ministry after the Union Cabinet asked it to “re-cast” the bill this September, exempts information related to selection of sportspersons, their performance and injury from the purview of the RTI law, made applicable to sports bodies including Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
International Cricket Council president Sharad Pawar with renewable resources minister Farooq Abdullah and heavy industries minister Praful Patel had objected to invoking RTI for cricket.
“BCCI and sportspersons had apprehended that providing such information may give competitive edge to rivals and would also create bad blood among competing sportspersons,” Sports Minister Ajay Maken told HT.
He also explained that the objective of making RTI applicable to sports federations including BCCI was to bring administrative and financial transparency. “Without making any compromise on the issues of transparency and good governance we have tried to accommodate the genuine concerns of BCCI and other sports federations,” he said.
The draft law, which would soon be submitted for Cabinet consideration, also prohibits seeking information under RTI regarding dope tests conducted on players and their whereabouts, as objected by the BCCI. With these changes, the ministry believes it would be able to get the Cabinet approval.
The government intends to amend the RTI law to exempt the proposed nuclear energy regulator --- National Nuclear Safety Authority --- from ambit of the transparency law. The draft nuclear authority bill approved by the Cabinet intends to list the authority among government bodies such as CBI exempted from applicability of the transparency law.
The bill also seeks to amendment the RTI law to prevent seeking information on the ground of “large public interest” clause from the proposed authority. The RTI law provides for waiving off the exemption clauses if there is sufficient evidence to claim that providing information would be in public interest.
Information exempted under RTI in National Sports Development Bill:
Selection or appointment of an athlete or trainer
Performance of an athlete in competitions
Medical health and fitness of sportspersons
Doping tests reports of athletes and confidential information under National Anti-Doping Code.
Proposed nuclear safety authority to be exempted from RTI
Specific clause seeking to amend RTI Act to prevent providing information under public interest doctrine of the RTI Act.