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‘Post-RTI,govt officials more careful’

Government officials have now become more careful in their notings on files,when earlier knowing fully well that the contents of the file would not be revealed to the public under the Official Secrets Act...

Written by Rajendra Khatry | Chandigarh |
March 4, 2009 11:19:17 pm

Scope for improvement regarding RTI use in Haryana,revealed at meeting

Government officials have now become more careful in their notings on files,when earlier knowing fully well that the contents of the file would not be revealed to the public under the Official Secrets Act,they could write anything,said Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) G Madhavan today.

“But RTI has resulted in making government officials more responsive,responsible,accountable and transparent. When the government knows it is accountable to the people,good governance is ensured,’’ said Madhavan.

Participating in the state-level multi stakeholders’ dialogues on “Three years of the RTI in India: Haryana scenario – problems and possibilities”,organised by the Society for Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA) and Sanjha Kadam,Madhavan,a retired Haryana chief secretary,said studies show that RTI usage is reasonably well in Haryana,but there is scope for improvement. It is not true that the Information Commission is soft on government officials. A number of officials have been fined or penalised,he said. He appreciated awareness campaigns for RTI carried out by the NGOs.

However,Madhavan accepted the fact that the RTI was also being misused sometimes to harass officials.

Later,participating in the panel discussion,Dr Surat Singh,Director,HIRD,Karnal,felt there was a need for a mass public awareness campaign to make the RTI Act more successful. He called for a provision of punishment against officials for providing wrong information to the public. Dr Rajkumar Siwach,Reader,CDLU,Sirsa,called for an alliance of media,NGOs,RTI users and activists (AMANT) for making RTI more effective for people.

Relating his own experience,Rajneesh Sharma,earlier involved with the Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan project in the state,said officials often try to hide information and there was not much transparency in their functioning yet.

An activist from Mahendragarh,Ajit Tomar said there was both use and misuse of the RTI. He said he has been carrying out a campaign in the state to make people more aware of the RTI facility. He said the information provided through the RTI could be used to take government officials to task by complaining to the Lok Ayukta.

Earlier,Krishan Tyagi,state coordinator,PRIA,and Dr Satpal Singh talked about the importance of making the RTI usage more popular among general people for strengthening social accountability.

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