Institutions averse to parting with information under RTI
New Delhi, Oct 15 Amidst efforts by the government to usher in transparency in the functioning of public bodies, many institutions, including the Supreme Court, have expressed reluctance to part with all information under the Right to Information Act, according to a CIC report.
“The Supreme Court (Ministry of Law and Justice) has sought exemption from the Act for any information, which, in the opinion of the Chief Justice or his nominee, may adversely affect or interfere or tend to interfere with independence of judiciary or administration of justice,” the Central
Information Commission (CIC) said in its first annual report.
Similarly CBI, UPSC and DMRC have also sought exemption from coming under the purview of the Act on one ground or another.
The CBI has wished that it be included in the second schedule of the RTI Act which grants immunity to intelligence and security organisations of the country.
Organisations under the second schedule of the Act are not obliged to provide any information to the applicant unless they (information) belong to corruption or human rights violation cases.
While the UPSC has asked for exemption from disclosure of information relating to examination and recruitment cases, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) have sought total exemption from the provisions of the Act.
The report, recently placed before the Parliament, said DMRC had pleaded that it was involved in a time bound exercise to complete the metro rail project in the capital and providing information to applicant under the Act would overburden it.
Apart from the exemptions sought, the 2005-2006 report also finds a host of suggestions made by public authorities.
Consumer Affairs, Health and Family Welfare, and Mines Ministries amongst others, have suggested that fees charged under the RTI Act be increased in case the information sought covers large periods of time and is not in a format as maintained by the offices.
Concerned over the growing “misuse” of the transparency law, public sector undertakings (PSUs) -- Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) and DMRC -- have called for putting up adequate safeguards in this regard.
Some other offices have expressed concern over their lack of proper infrastructure in catering to timely disbursal of information.
The National Buildings Construction Corporation Limited (NBCC) which falls under the Urban Development Ministry has suggested that RTI Act also bring within its ambit the private sector, in failure of which PSU’s should also be granted exemption from complying with the Act. Calling for a change of mindset amongst officials in effectively implementing the RTI Act, the Commission, in its parting remarks, observed “an attitudinal change is needed among public officials who still believe that they have a monopoly over records and resent the public demand for ‘too much’ information for ‘too less’ a fee.”