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Amendments to Right to Information Act opposed Print E-mail
Source: The Hindu
http://www.hindu.com/2006/08/17/stories/2006081720660500.htm
 
A former Chief Election Commissioner and a former Secretary to Government have spoken against the proposed amendments to the Right to Information Act (RTI) saying citizens' access to `file notings' will improve the efficiency of Government agencies.

At a public meeting organised by Thinkers' Association recently in the city, the former Chief Election Commissioner, T.S. Krishnamurthy, said there was a big nexus between politicians and civil servants. "There is a practice among some civil servants to informally consult Ministers to make favourable file notings. This makes a mockery of the official policy framework. Making the notings available to the public will help such civil servants get their spine back."

Mr. Krishnamurthy also said he was against the total exemption of records of some Government departments from the Act. "Even documents considered `sensitive' must be made available after 5 or 10 years. That is the common practice in countries that have already implemented similar RTI Acts."

Integral part

The former secretary to Government, A.K. Venkatasubramanian, said file notings were an integral part of the RTI Act and must not be exempted through amendments. "A majority of the persons proactively using the Act now are government employees, especially those who want to know why their promotion has been delayed or denied. If the file notings are not going to be disclosed, how will they know the reasons for their position," he asked.

Mr. Venkatasubramanian also urged the Government agencies to concentrate on "proactive disclosure of facts" and try and reduce instances that residents would require to use the RTI Act.

"Make use of Act"

The former Supreme Court judge and patron of Thinkers' Association, S. Natarajan, said the RTI Act paved way for an informed citizenry and was passed with good intentions. He however urged the residents to utilise the Act to its potential if it must make a change.

The meeting on "How effective will be the Right to Information Act" was organised at Ethiraj College for Women last Saturday. Senior journalist K.V. Lakshminarayanan and Thinkers' Association president P.S. Somasundaram also participated.
 
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