New Delhi --- For all the popular acclaim received by the RTI Act and the transparency it promises, some of the most high-profile public authorities -- including the Supreme Court, UPSC, CBI and Delhi Metro -- have sought exemption from its purview.
This came to light in the first annual report of the RTI regulator, Central Information Commission, due to be presented shortly to the government. CIC's report is based on the returns filed by 837 public authorities on the working of RTI in 2005-06.
The plea to be exempted wholly or substantially from the ambit of the RTI Act has been made by eight of those public authorities, ironically, while offering their "recommendations for reform". Each cites a different reason for wanting out.
Delhi Metro Rail Corporation has sought a "general exemption" on the ground that it has undertaken a "time-bound exercise" of laying an extensive network in the Capital ahead of the 2010 Commonwealth Games.
CBI's pretext of seeking an amendment to the RTI Act is that it wants to be treated on a par with the 18 intelligence and security organisations which are statutorily exempted from disclosing any information other than information pertaining to allegations of corruption and human rights violations.
Source : Times of India news dt 09 Jan 2007, as posted in Asia Media
Posted by Manoj Mitta in Times of India Jan.10,2007 (as reported in Asia Media):
New Delhi --- Some of the most high profile public authorities have sought exemption from RTI's purview. The exemption sought by UPSC is specifically about information relating to "examination and recruitment/appointment cases". The nodal authority for UPSC and CBI is the personnel ministry, which is responsible for the administration of RTI as well.
Four of the other public authorities which have requested to be kept out of RTI's ambit are PSUs. While Bhel and Rashtriya Chemicals and Fertilisers Limited have apparently given no reason, National Building Construction Corporation has cited the need for a level playing field with the private sector. NBCC suggested that RTI be extended to cover the private sector as well or, alternatively, "exemption be considered for PSUs". PEC Limited, a trading corporation under the commerce ministry, has sought a review of the "entitlement of a questioner seeking information on commercial deals or apparently irrelevant information, which will not help the public."
Bhel and DMRC suggested that in case their pleas were not accepted, Parliament consider introducing provisions to "check the bona fides of the requester and to refuse information to those who are not directly concerned with it, or might use it for promoting their own business interests or may misuse it." The SC as first reported by TOI, has sought exemption from RTI Act for any information, which, in the opinion of CJI or his nominee, may "adversely affect or interfere or tend to interfere with the independence of the judiciary or administration of justice."
'Justice Corps' criticises SC for seeking exemption from RTI Act
New Delhi, Jan 16 (ANI): An action group for judicial transparency, justice reforms and human rights-- Justice Corps-- has criticised the Supreme Court for seeking exemption from the Right to Information Act (RTI Act).
In a letter sent today to Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan, the judges of the Supreme Court and all the High Courts, the group said that the apex court should not adopt "double standards" by passing numerous judgments upholding citizens' right to information on the one hand and "shying away" from the RTI Act on the other.
"We learn through media reports that the Supreme Court is not receptive to the Right to Information Act and the SC wants to be exempted from the RTI Act for any information which, in the opinion of the Chief Justice of India or his nominee, may "adversely affect or interfere or tend to interfere with the independence of the judiciary or administration of justice". In addition, the SC has recommended that a decision by the CJI under the Act should not be subjected to further appeal before the CIC," said the letter.
"We are of the opinion that the above hostility towards the RTI Act of the Supreme Court amounts to double standards adopted by the SC, of late...We therefore condemn this irresponsible attitude of the Supreme Court towards the Right to Information Act. We want to remind the judges that they are not Lords provided with any special exemptions. They are public servants meant to serve the public and are very much accountable to the people," it added.
They went on to say that the Judges owe much more accountability to the people because "at least corrupt, derelict, inefficient, uncouth politicians can be thrown out by the people every five years during election time, but corrupt, derelict, inefficient, uncouth public servants like IAS, IPS, and Judges rule over the public for more than 25-30 years".
"The judiciary must know that it too is being watched by the public and it too is accountable to the public, being one major pillar of democracy. Like bureaucrats who wanted to escape file notings, if the courts prefer to escape the Right to Information Act, then all the judgments of various HCs and the SC on right to information will be nothing but mere pontifications," they said. (ANI)