Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday cautioned against the dangers of middlemen in disseminating governmental information using the Right to Information Act (RTI).
Speaking on the occasion of the first anniversary of the RTI, he said, "We must guard against the growth of professional middlemen in the use of this Act as seen in some other countries."
Since it is a law for common benefit in relation to public authority, "we are all stakeholders in the Act and must guard against allowing it to become a tool for promotion of an adversorial relationship between stakeholders. This can only serve to weaken the Act," he added.
Taken aback by protests during the inauguration of the three-day meet by President Abdul Kalam on October 13, the Delhi Police did not leave anything to chance on the concluding day when the PM delivered the address at Vigyan Bhavan.
They frisked everyone and even unbuttoned shirts of some people to check if they were wearing the T-shirts that had sported slogans like "President we want to speak for 2 minutes with you", "CIC has killed RTI" and "Sack CIC, Save RTI".
The protesters were demanding the removal of Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah for allegedly not resisting the government's efforts to dilute the Act. In his address in the presence of the PM, Habibullah referred to the protests. "One of the informal consensus on the opening day was to sack me. But I do not know whether that consensus still stands or not after three days of deliberations."
The PM did not touch the issue of proposed amendment to remove file notings from the ambit of the legislation. But, he said, there will always be various opinions about the interpretation and implementation of some provisions of the Act. "This is true of any legislation — particularly those that usher in far reaching changes. In a democratic society, sometimes it takes time for new ideas to take firm root."