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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.

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”.

Also Read: No Right To Information? Big Brother Does Not Want You To Ask Questions

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.

 Also Read: Activists, Former CICs Slam Govt Move To Amend RTI Act

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