eGovernance in India

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Govt misleading people on RTI Act: Arvind Kejriwal

Posted by egovindia on August 6, 2006

Govt misleading people on RTI Act: Arvind Kejriwal

New Delhi: Government is misleading the people by claiming that the proposed amendments to the Right to Information law would strengthen it, says Magasaysay Award winner Arvind Kejriwal.

The RTI Act, in its original form, gave access to file notings on all issues except those of national security and the recent Cabinet decision to keep file notings away from the purview of the legislation was a retrograde step, he said.

“The government move will kill the law which has emerged as a powerful tool in curbing corruption,” he told PTI in an interview. Kejriwal, the founder of people’s movement ‘Parivartan’, said he himself had accessed and acquired several official documents, including file notings from various government departments.

The Prime Minister’s Office had last week said the Cabinet decision had for the first time made disclosure of file notings possible.

It had said that the amendments would allow access to “file notings of all plans, schemes and programmes of the government that relate to development and social issues”.

“The government is misleading the people by saying it is making available access to file notings for the first time,” he said showing photocopies of a bulk of such documents acquired from the Planning Commission earlier.

Several retired bureaucrats have written to President A P J Abdul Kalam saying that access to file notings under the RTI Act will strengthen the hands of the bureaucracy as it will help pin-point the person who had caused delay in taking a particular decision.

On winning this year’s Magasaysay Award, Kejriwal said “the honour was an international recognition of his work, but the Indian government was ignoring the RTI movement in the country by going ahead with the amendments to the RTI Act.” Noted social activist Anna Hazare had met the President to protest the move to block access to file notings and even threatened to return the Padma Bhushan awarded to him.

Kejriwal, who quit his Indian Revenue Service job in February this year to work for the RTI movement, said the Centre should wait for at least two to three years before bringing in any amendment to the RTI Act.

“The RTI Act was introduced about eight months back. The Centre should wait for at least two to three years to test the efficacy of the legislation before bringing in any amendments,” he said.

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