Within 3 months of the 2004 elections, the NCPRI submitted its recommendations to the NAC on the RTI Draft Bill, which in turu endorsed most of them. However, the Government RTI bill had a departure that its jurisdiction was limited to the Centre as the states were exempted from its ambit. After Civil Society and NAC intervention the deficiencies were rectified in the RTI Bill and was passed by both the houses of parliament in May 2005.
The major deviation from the draft bill was the penal clause which imposed a liability of imprisonment up to five years if the public information officer had knowingly given false information or denied information in a mala fide manner. The final RTI Act does not have this clause.
The next milestone was the prevention of amendment of the RTI Act 2005 a year later which presumably sought to dilute the provision such as 'File Notings'. The amendment proposed was limiting the file noting to only development and social issues. The protest by the civil society and RTI Activist on August 2006 by Aruna Roy and others at Jantar Mantar while Anna hazare went on an indefinite fast in his Maharashtra village, finally halted the amendment.
Another milestone event in RTI has been the Last Year CIC decision that public authorities should publish "all relevant facts while formulating important policies or announcing the decisions which affect public" on Section 4 (1)(c) of the RTI Act. The RTI Activist asked CIC whether Section 4 (1)(c) could be extended to Pre-Legislative consultation? In response, the full bench of CIC recommended that a 2002 circular on the procedure for preparing and submitting cabinet notes on legislative proposals be amended to bring it in tune with the RTI Clause. However, the public consultation on draft bills is still left to be implemented.
- Will 'Public Consultation on draft bills of Government' change the very nature of formulating the bills and in turn decision making?
- Can you site any other major milestones in the evolution of RTI Act? Please feel free to drop in your comments.
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