The government and judiciary pose a serious threat to the Right to Information. If the citizens do not take effective steps to protect this right, it could be destroyed, a Central Information Commissioner has warned, in a rare outburst.
The widely prevalent dangerous trend of resistance to transparency in their functioning by “those in power” will gradually kill the RTI Act, Central Information Commissioner (CIC), Shailesh Gandhi (62) told Hindustan Times.
“The governments of all the states, irrespective of which party they belong to, follow a pattern of misgovernance and therefore are opposed to transparency,” Gandhi said.
Government departments were rushing to courts to get stay orders against the decisions of information commissions to provide information to the common man.
Questioning the central and state governments commitment to the act, Gandhi, a graduate from IIT Bombay said: “There is no transparency in the appointment of information commissioners. No norms are being followed, and information commissions have been turned into parking lots for favorites of the government.”
No training was being provided to newly appointed information commissioners, either at the centre or in state commissions, nor is there any concern for their resources, he said.
Gandhi, the first RTI activist in the country to have been appointed an information commissioner last year, expressed surprise at the silence of information commissions across the country on the prevailing situation.
On the interference by courts in some decisions of the CIC, including the declaration of judges assets, Gandhi said: “Common man has already given up hope of getting justice from courts, now if they continue to deny information, I am sorry slow poison is being administered to the right to know.”
In the RTI Act, there is no provision for an appeal against the order of the CIC.
But the courts are entertaining these appeals in the garbs of writ petitions saying nobody can be denied the right to file a writ, “some restraint should be exercised,” he said.