In a move that can strike a dent to the purpose of Right to Information Act (RTI) in the country, bureaucracy is averse to reveal official file notings that contain the discussions on the subject under consideration before the government.
The bureaucracy points to the instructions from the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) — which comes directly under the Prime Minister — to keep the file notings under wraps. This decision will have a negative impact on the RTI purpose. Because making official notings public would have helped fix the trail of responsibility and accountability within the government.
The bureaucracy had tried to draw an iron curtain over this part of the file. The government, however, hasn't given up. A DoPT circular on April 10, 2008 noted CIC rulings that file notings was an integral part of a file and should be disclosed. “Applications seeking copies of the file notings may be disposed of as per clarification given on the website,” the circular issued by DoPT deputy secretary, Zoya CB, said.
Exasperated CIC Wajahat Habibullah said: “The DoPT view is illegal according to the RTI Act.”
He told HT that the commission has asked DoPT to remove illegal definition of information from DoPT website.
DoPT's website had defined the information as all information except file notings.
All Central government ministries had been following DoPT'’s version of information, and thereby denying file notings.
Habibullah said if the DoPT fails to comply with its direction, a penal action could be taken against the government official responsible for complying with the order.
On the DoPT’s order to different Central government ministries that file notings are not be provided unless the CIC issues a specific order, Habibullah said the issues will be resolved once the DoPT corrects its definition of information on its website.