The recent move by the state government to amend the Maharashtra Right To Information (RTI) rules, 2005, has left activists irked.
A notification issued by the state government dated January 16 has introduced amendments such as restricting the word limit of applications to 150 words and confining it to a single subject.
Expressing strong opposition and requesting the government to withdraw the amendments, RTI activists in the city have drafted a protest letter citing the implications of the amendments.
The letter, which has so far received around 100 signatures, would be sent to chief minister Prithviraj Chavan on April 2. Krishnaraj Rao, member of the forum RTI Union, said: “Why are the amendments being stealthily carried out? There was no public notice published from government sources.”
Rao also pointed out that carrying out these amendments defy section 4 (1) (c) of RTI act, which states that every public authority must publish relevant facts while formulating policies or announcing decisions that affect the public.
GR Vora, a RTI activist from Matunga, said the ‘single subject matter’ clause would give unnecessary discretionary powers to the public information officers (PIOs). “The present regulations already give the PIOs the right to reject applications if they seek information from different departments. The amendment would give arbitrary powers to the PIOs to reject applications even if a slightly different question is asked,” said Vora.
Activists also dismissed the need to impose a word limit. “Section 4 of the RTI act says that government departments should be transparent and provide information suo motu so that there is minimum resort to filing of written RTI applications. Unless the government fulfills this, applications are bound to be lengthy,” said RTI activist Bhaskar Prabhu, a Parel resident.