The same very Prime Minister who gave a wonderful Right to Information Act during UPA-I, has now floated ideas to destroy the same very transparency Act now in the UPA-II regime, as is clear from the disappointing speech of Dr Manmohan Singh at the inaugural session of seventh annual convention of Central Information Commission held at New Delhi on 12th October 2012.
HIS VIEWS about dangers of taking Public-Private-Partnership Enterprises (PPP) under RTI Act are contrary to Act itself which clearly mentions all bodies directly or indirectly funded and/or controlled by government automatically covered under RTI Act. Mostly, all scams and scandals are possible by unholy alliance of private sector with public-authorities. Does the Prime minister wish to give an endorsement to such corrupt public-private partnerships by diluting RTI Act?
Right of privacy is already taken care of under exemption-cover of sections 8(1)(j) and 11 of RTI Act. Problematic situation for wrong-doers arises out of section 8(2), which allows disclosure of information if public interest overweighs harm protected by any of the exemption clause under various provisions of several sub-sections of section 8(1) including also section 8(1)(j). Does Prime Minister intend that ‘private’ information of corrupt ones necessary to be disclosed in public-interest, may not be disclosed to give tainted people undesired protection?
Public Information Officers have the right to deny information on ‘frivolous and vexatious’ petitions without wasting public resources. Special provision in this respect, as desired by the Prime Minister, will rather increase the already enormous and unmanageable work load on Information Commissions when already over-burdened Information Commissions will be further over-burdened with petitions filed against rejection on so-alleged ‘frivolous and vexatious’ petitions thus wasting even more of public resources then saved.
Every legislation is misused by a small section of some wrong-doers, but it does not mean that the very essence of otherwise public-friendly RTI Act may be diluted to give relief to wrong-doers exposed effectively by the transparency Act. Already, Department of Personnel & Training (DoPT) has imposed a reasonable 500-word limit to take care of some such situations.