In a bid strengthen the existing right to information (RTI) act, Maharashtra State Chief Information Commissioner, Ratnakar Gaikwad, has demanded amendment of the act, which will give more teeth to it.
While speaking at the RTI book launch function in Mumbai, Gaikwad said that information commissions in the state and nation should be given powers, like other tribunals like the Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal and Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT), where action can be taken for contempt.
The book, titled RTI Act: Authentic Interpretation of the Statute, is co-authored by Shailesh Gandhi, former central information commission and Pralhad Kachare, deputy commissioner revenue Aurangabad and former director, Center for Right to Information - YASHADA Pune.
Gaikwad said, “If some of my orders are not complied I issue notices, but beyond that there is no power. Tribunals like MAT and CAT have it and officials are scared about them. While those tribunals are only for government employees, this commission serves general citizens. If such powers are given, the officials will comply to information commission orders faster.”
Every month, hundreds of RTI applications are made at each of the eight information commissions across the state. The increasing RTI applications were also discussed during the book launch, which the activists said is due to the lack of disclosure by the government authorities.
However, former information commissioner Shailesh Gandhi, didn’t find the need to amend the RTI act. “By and large, officials comply to the orders. If any attempt is made to amend the law, it will be diluted.”