eGovernance in India

Improving eGovernance in INDIA

Move to amend RTI Act decried

Posted by egovindia on July 31, 2006

Move to amend RTI Act decried
By A Staff Reporter


GUWAHATI, July 29 – North East Network (NEN), a women’s organisation dedicated to addressing key issues from the North-east, has termed as retrograde the Centre’s decision to amend the Right to Information Act 2005 by excluding file notings from the Act.

“This decision was taken without any prior discussion or debate with the stakeholders, and we believe that it is a retrograde step, which is bound to kill the spirit of the Act,” NEN said in a statement.

NEN is actively involved in disseminating the Right to Information Act 2005 and its use among the people of the North-east for the last two years.

Pointing out that file notings were a vital part of the decision-making process undertaken by government officers, and provided a written record and trail of how a decision was reached and the people involved in making that decision, NEN said that when a file was put up to an officer, he or she wrote comments or made a decision on the green pages of the file and forwarded it to the next officer.

“The next officer similarly writes his/her comments on the green pages. File notings, therefore, expose anything that is questionable or underhanded, leading to either a delayed or prejudiced decision. It provides the reason why a decision was not taken and by which person. By not making the file notings available to the public, the Government becomes an accomplice in protecting corrupt and dishonest officials and loses all accountability to its citizens,” the statement said, adding that it encourages maintaining secrecy in the decision-making process and negates the spirit of a free and fair democracy.

Maintaining that the amendment completely weakens the Act that was passed after sustained activism and deliberation, with the aim of giving common citizens a mechanism to combat corruption and inefficiency, NEN said that civil society organisations and concerned citizens all over India and the North-east strongly opposed the move.

“We, at North East Network, urge the Government to immediately correct this amendment and instead focus on how to strengthen the implementation of this important Act,” it said and called upon all Indians to join hands to oppose any move to dilute the citizens’ fundamental rights.

It further requested citizens and organisations to write to the Prime Minister and all political parties and register their opposition. “Citizens across the nation should also organise themselves in meetings to explain to others and register their protest against this assault on an important right,” it added.

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