Modi Government Is Hiding Proposed Amendments to the RTI Act
The Department of Personnel and Training has refused to disclose RTI Amendment Bill, 2018.
In yet another shocking blow to transparency, the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) has denied to make public the RTI Amendment Bill 2018 that was circulated in the Rajya Sabha and will be tabled in the upcoming session of the parliament.
An RTI application, filed by Anjali Bhardwaj, member of the National Campaign for People’s Right to Information (NCPRI), requested the DoPT to disclose the proposed amendment bill. The application cited that “every Department/Ministry is required to proactively place in the public domain all proposed legislations for a minimum period of thirty days” and questioned if the department had done so.
In yet another bizarre denial of information, the DoPT refuses to share the proposed amendments to to #RTI Act. The amendment bill was circulated to Rajya Sabha MPs in the last session of Parliament but was never made public by the govt. Secret amendments to transparency law! pic.twitter.com/D7iON3XC0r
— Anjali Bhardwaj (@AnjaliB_) November 22, 2018
Section 4(1)(c)of the RTI act stipulates that all public authorities are to ‘publish all relevant facts while formulating important policies or announcing the decisions which affect public.” The application said that a 2010 decision of the Central Information Commission has directed “that a credible mechanism be put in place for proactive and timely disclosure of draft legislation in the public domain… during the process of their formulation and before finalization”.
However, Varsha Sinha, the Director, DoPT, wrote in her reply, “The matter regarding amendment in the RTI Act, 2005 is under consideration and has not reached finality. As per section 8(1)(i) of the RTI Act, 2005, information requested by you cannot be supplied at this stage.”
Transparency activists have been objecting to the Narendra Modi-led government’s proposal to amend the RTI act. The bill that was circulated amongst the MPs reportedly has several provisions that would dilute the effectiveness of the act, as well as undermine the authority and independence of Information Commissioners. The CIC had said that the government did not consult it while drafting the bill.