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Thread: Exemption should be specific to stop misuse

  1. #1
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    Exemption should be specific to stop misuse


    As reported by Staff Correspondent in thedailystar.net on 20 March 2008:
    :The Daily Star: Internet Edition

    Information Disclosure in RTI
    Exemption should be specific to stop misuse

    Instances of exemption from disclosure of information should be specified in the proposed Right to Information (RTI) ordinance to prevent its misuse, said visiting Indian Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah yesterday.

    He put emphasis on computerising all government records and connecting them to a network for easy access and said the success of the law depends a lot on it.

    Habibullah, who has been leading Indian Central Information Commission since October 26, 2005, was sharing experiences of implementation of the Indian RTI Act at a roundtable meeting in Dhaka.

    He described the draft RTI ordinance as stronger than the Indian act in terms of making the information commission more autonomous and holding accountable the entire private sector under the RTI law. But he cautioned about the huge task of bringing the whole private sector under the law.

    "My personal feeling is that it is desirable. But you need to think yourself whether you can manage it," Habibullah said.

    While the Indian act only makes disclosing information to public compulsory only for government offices and other organisations that receive public fund, the draft of the RTI Ordinance 2008 covers public offices, any company, corporation, trust, firm, society, cooperative society, NGOs, private organisations, associations and organisations registered under any law of the land.

    Manusher Jonno Foundation organised the roundtable at Brac Centre Inn. Its Executive Director Shaheen Anam moderated the programme.

    Terming the RTI law an instrument for realising people's rights, Habibullah said the concept of RTI stemmed from bringing transparency and accountability in the working of every pubic authority.

    "We are trained not to give information. And after enactment of the RTI law, it has become like a paradigm shift," he said on the practices in public offices in India.

    "Open the lid," he said, asking to proactively make key information available for the people.

    Exemption is overridden for public interest, he said, pointing out that article 10 of the draft contradicts section "jha" of article 8 that says there shall be no obligation to disclosure of information "that would be contrary to public interest".

    According to article 10, "Notwithstanding the provisions of this ordinance or any law of Bangladesh to the contrary, the government/authority shall disclose any information of public interest."

    "Since the law is about disclosure and since in certain cases you can't disclose everything, details exempted from disclosure need to be worded specifically and carefully," the Indian CIC said, adding, "Vague description is subject to misuse."

    Asked if defence budget is accessible to people, he said, "Anything that can be disclosed before parliament can be open for people."

    On the challenges of implementing the RTI act, Habibullah said primarily the officials were not serious about it and changed their attitude when they had to pay penalty for it.

    "There was a general lack of awareness both among the officials and the people about the law," he said, adding that the NGOs and the media are playing a vital role in making people aware of the law and helping them with information about where and how to contact.

    Habibullah said the draft needs some polishing in some areas.

    "You may build in the question of computerisation and networking so that the records are kept in a manner that makes it more easily accessible," he said.

    On the fees for getting information, he suggested the government can give concession to those who cannot afford.

    Farooq Sobhan, president of Bangladesh Enterprises Institute, said changing the attitude of government officials who have been keeping information secret will be a major challenge and in parallel to working to enact the RTI ordinance the government needs to launch a campaign to sensitise public servants.

    He stressed the need for introduction of e-governance in all sectors for free flow of information.

    Kamal Uddin Ahmed, a joint secretary at the information ministry who headed the eight-member RTI ordinance drafting committee, said, "We agree that there are some critical areas that require further improvement and, for that, we are closely monitoring the initiatives to gather pubic opinions on the draft."

    He said the government is thinking about reaching people outside Dhaka through NGO networks and government stakeholders.

    Former minister MK Anwar suggested instead of the information seekers the officials declining to disclose information will have to go to the information commission to explain why they are not disclosing the information.

    Awami League leader Asaduzzman Noor stressed the need for involving politicians in discussions as "they are the people who will have to pass the law in parliament and implement it".

    Shaheen Anam underscored the role of the NGOs and civil society in creating mass awareness about the implications of the act and how it can be used as people, especially the vulnerable groups, need the access to information most.

    Rashed Khan Menon, president of Workers Party, Zaglul Ahmed Chowdhury, chief news editor of Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha, Shyamol Dutta, editor of Bhorer Kagoj, former MP GM Quader, economist Atiur Rahman, Badiul Alam Majumder, secretary of Sujon, and Rezaul Karim Chowdhury, convenor of Equity and Justice Working Group, also took part in the discussion.


    Twitter: @cjkarira

  2. #2
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    Re: Exemption should be specific to stop misuse


    Members please note that unlike the RTI Act in India, the draft of the Bangladesh RTI Law covers even the private sector:

    While the Indian act only makes disclosing information to public compulsory only for government offices and other organisations that receive public fund, the draft of the RTI Ordinance 2008 covers public offices, any company, corporation, trust, firm, society, cooperative society, NGOs, private organisations, associations and organisations registered under any law of the land.

    Please also read this related thread:

    https://www.rtiindia.org/forum/3213-b...html#post11598
    Twitter: @cjkarira

  3. Re: Exemption should be specific to stop misuse


    Quote Originally Posted by karira View Post
    As reported by Staff Correspondent in thedailystar.net on 20 March 2008:
    :The Daily Star: Internet Edition

    Information Disclosure in RTI
    Exemption should be specific to stop misuse

    Instances of exemption from disclosure of information should be specified in the proposed Right to Information (RTI) ordinance to prevent its misuse, said visiting Indian Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah yesterday.

    He put emphasis on computerising all government records and connecting them to a network for easy access and said the success of the law depends a lot on it.

    Habibullah, who has been leading Indian Central Information Commission since October 26, 2005, was sharing experiences of implementation of the Indian RTI Act at a roundtable meeting in Dhaka.

    He described the draft RTI ordinance as stronger than the Indian act in terms of making the information commission more autonomous and holding accountable the entire private sector under the RTI law. But he cautioned about the huge task of bringing the whole private sector under the law.

    "My personal feeling is that it is desirable. But you need to think yourself whether you can manage it," Habibullah said.

    While the Indian act only makes disclosing information to public compulsory only for government offices and other organisations that receive public fund, the draft of the RTI Ordinance 2008 covers public offices, any company, corporation, trust, firm, society, cooperative society, NGOs, private organisations, associations and organisations registered under any law of the land.

    Manusher Jonno Foundation organised the roundtable at Brac Centre Inn. Its Executive Director Shaheen Anam moderated the programme.

    Terming the RTI law an instrument for realising people's rights, Habibullah said the concept of RTI stemmed from bringing transparency and accountability in the working of every pubic authority.

    "We are trained not to give information. And after enactment of the RTI law, it has become like a paradigm shift," he said on the practices in public offices in India.

    "Open the lid," he said, asking to proactively make key information available for the people.

    Exemption is overridden for public interest, he said, pointing out that article 10 of the draft contradicts section "jha" of article 8 that says there shall be no obligation to disclosure of information "that would be contrary to public interest".

    According to article 10, "Notwithstanding the provisions of this ordinance or any law of Bangladesh to the contrary, the government/authority shall disclose any information of public interest."

    "Since the law is about disclosure and since in certain cases you can't disclose everything, details exempted from disclosure need to be worded specifically and carefully," the Indian CIC said, adding, "Vague description is subject to misuse."

    Asked if defence budget is accessible to people, he said, "Anything that can be disclosed before parliament can be open for people."

    On the challenges of implementing the RTI act, Habibullah said primarily the officials were not serious about it and changed their attitude when they had to pay penalty for it.

    "There was a general lack of awareness both among the officials and the people about the law," he said, adding that the NGOs and the media are playing a vital role in making people aware of the law and helping them with information about where and how to contact.

    Habibullah said the draft needs some polishing in some areas.

    "You may build in the question of computerisation and networking so that the records are kept in a manner that makes it more easily accessible," he said.

    On the fees for getting information, he suggested the government can give concession to those who cannot afford.

    Farooq Sobhan, president of Bangladesh Enterprises Institute, said changing the attitude of government officials who have been keeping information secret will be a major challenge and in parallel to working to enact the RTI ordinance the government needs to launch a campaign to sensitise public servants.

    He stressed the need for introduction of e-governance in all sectors for free flow of information.

    Kamal Uddin Ahmed, a joint secretary at the information ministry who headed the eight-member RTI ordinance drafting committee, said, "We agree that there are some critical areas that require further improvement and, for that, we are closely monitoring the initiatives to gather pubic opinions on the draft."

    He said the government is thinking about reaching people outside Dhaka through NGO networks and government stakeholders.

    Former minister MK Anwar suggested instead of the information seekers the officials declining to disclose information will have to go to the information commission to explain why they are not disclosing the information.

    Awami League leader Asaduzzman Noor stressed the need for involving politicians in discussions as "they are the people who will have to pass the law in parliament and implement it".

    Shaheen Anam underscored the role of the NGOs and civil society in creating mass awareness about the implications of the act and how it can be used as people, especially the vulnerable groups, need the access to information most.

    Rashed Khan Menon, president of Workers Party, Zaglul Ahmed Chowdhury, chief news editor of Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha, Shyamol Dutta, editor of Bhorer Kagoj, former MP GM Quader, economist Atiur Rahman, Badiul Alam Majumder, secretary of Sujon, and Rezaul Karim Chowdhury, convenor of Equity and Justice Working Group, also took part in the discussion.
    Respected sirs,

    It is very good news from Chief Information Commissioner for RTI Activists and applicants who think for development of the country.

    Please check my suggestion on the following thread on 4th Feb 08: (post No: 47):

    https://www.rtiindia.org/forum/711-su...re+for+appeals

    i.e
    [Sirs,

    One suggestion I would like to share with you all sir,

    All the information (Other than exempted) available with the Companies, Govt. Departments etc., which come under RTI area should be kept on their respective websites.

    These information which is kept on websites definately solve the very purpose of transparent functioning of Government, semi-govt, public sector etc., and definately a move towards making bright India and can see transparent working.]


    rakatkam.

  4. #4
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    Col NR Kurup (Retd)
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    Re: Exemption should be specific to stop misuse



    "Former minister MK Anwar suggested instead of the information seekers the officials declining to disclose information will have to go to the information commission to explain why they are not disclosing the information."

    Our RTI act has this provision. Section 19(5) say exactly the same thing. Only our CIC and SICs could not understand it and keep calling the information seekers at their door steps.

    While the Indian act only makes disclosing information to public compulsory only for government offices and other organisations that receive public fund, the draft of the RTI Ordinance 2008 covers public offices, any company, corporation, trust, firm, society, cooperative society, NGOs, private organisations, associations and organisations registered under any law of the land.

    All these Agencies are indirectly controlled or having some grip of the Public Authorities. For Eg. the public authority can cancel the registration if they do not obey the public authority. Again only the CIC and SIC refuce to interpret existing provisions of our Act accordingly.

  5. #5

    Re: Exemption should be specific to stop misuse


    why can we stop misuse



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