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  Home >> Don't make RTI tool to settle scores, says PM

 
 

RTI - Don't make RTI tool to settle scores, says PM

EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE
NEW DELHI, OCTOBER 15

L AUDING the Right to Information Act as "the people's law", Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh asked for guarding against "pro- fessional middlemen" and not
let the law be- come an instrument for settling scores.
Addressing the three-day convention on the first an- niversary of the RTI
Act, Singh said, "We must guard against the growth of professional middlemen
in the use of this Act as seen in some other countries." "And since it is an
Act for our common benefit in relation to Public Authority, we are all
stakeholders in the Act and must guard against allowing it to become a tool
for promotion of an adversarial relationship between different stakeholders.
This can only serve to weaken the Act," he said.
Without touching upon any of the contentious issues of file notings or CIC's
inability to impose penalties on erring officials, the PM expressed the
government's commitment to the effective implementation of the RTI Act in
letter and spirit.
Urging all government departments to computerise their information database,
he said, "All public authorities must ensure that all records that can be
computerised are, within a reasonable time and subject to availability of
resources, computerised and connected through a network all over the
country. Networking through the country through the institutionalised
framework of panchayats, commu- nity service centres and knowledge centres
down to the village-level will ensure public participation in the de-
velopment process." Emphasising on "public interest", the PM said, "In many
ways, I would like to think that the Right to Infor- mation Act, taken
together with the 73rd and 74th Amendments to the Constitution and the
National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, enable us to fulfill to a
considerable degree, Bapu's dream." Commending the members of National
Advisory Council for framing the law, he said, at first anniversary
convention, "I have heard about your conclusions at the end of this 1st
Annual Convention. What is of particular satisfaction is that it has become
clear that the citizens of our country have owned this Act with their arms
wide open. This has become, if anything, a peoples' law." Therefore, he
said, "The implementation of RTI Act is, therefore, an important milestone
in our quest for building an enlightened and at the same time, a prosper ous
society. Therefore, the exercise of the Right to In formation cannot be the
privilege of only a few." Talking about the Central Information Commission,
he said, "the CIC has been playing the role of information provider of the
last resort to civil society. This convention has given an opportunity to
interested citizens, eminent personalities from civil society, government
and Information Commissions at all levels, to deliberate on substantive
issues of common concern and enrich us with their suggestions." He further
said, "I am sure that there will always be various opinions about the
interpretation and implementation of some provi sions of the Act we need to
evolve a consensus to facilitate the effective exercise of the right to
information by the needy, by those who are directly affected by the
information. We need to balance the need for information with the limited
time, material and human resources available with public authorities.
Vexatious demands should not be allowed to deprive genuine information
seekers of their legitimate claims on limited public resources."

L AUDING the Right to Information Act as "the people's law", Prime Minister
Manmo- han Singh asked for guarding against "pro- fessional middlemen" and
not let the law be- come an instrument for settling scores. Addressing the
three-day convention on the first an- niversary of the RTI Act, Singh said,
"We must guard against the growth of professional middlemen in the use of
this Act as seen in some other countries." "And since it is an Act for our
common benefit in relation to Pub- lic Authority, we are all stakeholders in
the Act and must guard against allow- ing it to become a tool for promotion
of an adversarial relationship between dif- ferent stakeholders. This can
only serve to weaken the Act," he said. Without touching upon any of the
contentious is- sues of file notings or CIC's inability to impose penalties
on erring offi- cials, the PM expressed the government's commit- ment to the
effective im- plementation of the RTI Act in letter and spirit. Urging all
government departments to comput- erise their information database, he said,
"All pub- lic authorities must ensure that all records that can be
computerised are, within a reasonable time and subject to availability of
resources, computerised and connected through a network all over the
country. Networking through the country through the institutionalised
framework of panchayats, commu- nity service centres and knowledge centres
down to the village-level will ensure public participation in the de-
velopment process." Emphasising on "public interest", the PM said, "In many
ways, I would like to think that the Right to Infor- mation Act, taken
together with the 73rd and 74th Amendments to the Constitution and the
National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, enable us to fulfill to a
considerable degree, Bapu's dream." Commending the members of National
Advisory Council for framing the law, he said, at first anniversary
convention, "I have heard about your conclusions at the end of this 1st
Annual Convention. What is of particular satisfaction is that it has become
clear that the citizens of our country have owned this Act with their arms
wide open. This has become, if anything, a peoples' law." Therefore, he
said, "The implementation of RTI Act is, therefore, an important milestone
in our quest for building an enlightened and at the same time, a prosper-
ous society. Therefore, the exercise of the Right to In- formation cannot be
the privilege of only a few." Talking about the Central Information
Commission, he said, "the CIC has been play- ing the role of information
provider of the last resort to civil society. This convention has given an
opportunity to interested citizens, eminent personalities from civil soci-
ety, government and Infor- mation Commissions at all levels, to deliberate
on sub- stantive issues of common concern and enrich us with their
suggestions." He further said, "I am sure that there will always be various
opinions about the interpretation and imple- mentation of some provi- sions
of the Act we need to evolve a consensus to facil- itate the effective
exercise of the right to information by the needy, by those who are directly
affected by the in- formation. We need to balance the need for informa- tion
with the limited time, material and human re- sources available with public
authorities. Vexatious demands should not be allowed to deprive genuine in-
formation seekers of their legitimate claims on limited public resources."

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Publication : IE; Section : National ; Pg; 2; Date: 16/10/06

URL :
http://70.86.150.130/indianexpress/ArticleText.aspx?article=16_10_2006_002_014

 

 




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