Govt may table proposals to tighten RTI Act at meet

A meeting on RTI next week may see discussions on proposals sponsored by the government to tighten the Act,in the wake of recent protests from bodies like the Joint Parliamentary Committee

Written by Swaraj Thapa | New Delhi | Published:October 10, 2011 2:20 am

A meeting on RTI next week may see discussions on proposals sponsored by the government to tighten the Act,in the wake of recent protests from bodies like the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) as well as ministries like Finance and Telecom,whose role has come under public scrutiny in the 2G spectrum issue.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar will be giving the valedictory address at the two-day,sixth annual RTI convention that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will inaugurate on October 14 at Vigyan Bhawan.

Among the issues likely to come up is the release of information on RTI queries by the Prime Minister’s Office. According to sources,the Finance and Telecom ministries have conveyed to the PMO that RTI queries should be transferred to nodal ministries instead.

The government was recently caught in a controversy over the release of a Finance Ministry note to the PMO on 2G,which was seen as bringing out differences within the government on the issue.

Another proposal that may be taken up is denial of information on issues in which investigations are underway.

However,detractors argue that the government can use this clause to restrict outflow of information through the RTI. The issue of whether parliamentary privilege is breached by release of documents through RTI even before a JPC looking into the matter has accessed them is also likely to figure at the RTI convention.

For example,the JPC looking into the 2G spectrum scam was not given the Finance Ministry note even after it was released through the RTI. The parliamentary body had taken up the issue with the government. Sources asserted that all relevant papers lying with the PMO on the 2G issue are now to be sent to the JPC by October 11.

The meet will also discuss the potential and efficacy of measures to curb corruption,redress grievances and ensure transparency and accountability,with special reference to PPP projects.

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