For More Info Log on to

Google Groups Subscribe to RTI Group
Browse Archives at

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Right to Information: First Principles & Sound Practice

The constitutional right to freedom of speech and expression is the repository of the right to information — not the 2005 Act, which is an instrument laying down the statutory procedure in the exercise of this right. It follows that all exceptions, exemptions, and denials of the right to information must necessarily conform to Article 19 (2). The Government must drop in its entirety its present proposal to amend the Act.
THE CURRENT debate with regard to the width of the Right to Information (RTI) has thrown up certain interesting issues for an informed national debate. The key question in the current debate evolves around the desirability of making notings on various files public. The Central Information Commission had interpreted the Right to Information Act, 2005 to include a citizen's right to get copies/inspection of file notings containing advices and opinions given by various civil servants. The United Progressive Alliance Government, on the contrary, has argued that this right was never included in the Act and that it is now willing to confer a limited right with regard to social sector expenditure and projects only and not with regard to other areas of governance.
The proponents of the liberal view have argued that information, as defined under the Act, includes opinions and advices and is therefore broad enough to cover file notings. File notings are essentially to understand not merely the fairness of the decision but also the decision-making process. Contrarian viewpoints upon consideration of which the Government decides become clear once the decision-making process is made public. If merely the final decision is conveyed, the rationale and logic behind the decision may not become apparent. Any unfair influence or collateral considerations in decision-making will not be known. The reasons why a more logical point has been overruled will never be known. The right to information will itself be incomplete without notings and observations on various files given by officials being made public. In our system of governance, we expect the civil services to advise the political executive freely and objectively. It will have to be made known why in certain cases this professional advice has not been accepted. Governments are expected to act fairly and rationally. All actions must be informed by reason. Decisions must necessarily be in the public interest and not suffer the vice of arbitrariness.
Supporters of the conservative view, on the other hand, have sought to contend that the original Act never conferred the right to know the notings, advices, and opinions. The proposed .....
For complete story click on the link below:

No comments: