Prime Minister Manmohan Singh favours amendments in the Right to Information Act while Congress President Sonia Gandhi firmly believes “there is no need for changes in it”, reveals an exchange of letters between them.
The letters have been made public by the Prime Minister’s Office in response to an RTI application by a Delhi resident, Subhash Chandra Agrawal.
HT had reported on March 5 that the PM and Congress president had divergent views on the issue of amendments in the RTI Act, following the concerns raised by the judiciary.
In her letter to the Prime Minister on November 10 last year, Gandhi said the information law “has begun to change the lives of the people and ways of governance” in the country.
“It is important, therefore, that we adhere strictly to its original aims and refrain from accepting or introducing changes in the legislation or the way it is implemented that would dilute its purpose,” stated the UPA chairperson
“In my opinion, there is no need for changes or amendments. The only exceptions permitted, such as national security, are already well taken care of in the legislation,” she said.
In his reply, Singh wrote on December 24, he agreed with the Congress President that the Act is one of the most effective pieces of legislation, but he felt the need for changes in it.
“However, as the implementation of the Act is still in its infancy, we are all learning as we go along. While we are taking steps to improve dissemination of information and training of personnel, there are some issues that cannot be dealt with except by amending the Act,” Singh stated.
“The Chief Justice of India has pointed out that the independence of the higher judiciary needs to be safeguarded in the implementation of the act. There are some issues relating to cabinet papers and internal discussions,” he wrote.
Singh, however, made it clear that tall issues were being examined and “any amendments” would be considered after consultations with all stakeholders and without diluting the Act.