`RTI less effective alongside Official Secrets Act`
As reported in The Imphal Free Press in kanglaonline.com on 13 April 2008:
`RTI less effective alongside Official Secrets Act`
IMPHAL, Apr 12: A one-day sensitization programme on the right to information Act, 2005 held here Saturday observed that co-existence of the official secret Act even after the enforcement of the RTI Act may force the latter to remain a paper tiger.
The programme was organized by the state information and public relation with an objective to tell the people how they could obtain information under the RTI act from the public authority.
Resource persons in the sensitization programme while presenting their papers of different expect of the RTI Act and the governance also maintained that the non-inclusion pf RTI as a fundamental right preserved the traditional unquestioned right of government to maintained secrecy in its functioning by taking shelter under the Official Secrets Act including the discretion to decide what is official and what is secret.
In his paper, BB Sharma, deputy director, Regional News Unit, All India Radio, Imphal said that it has been a hotly debated question whether the rights to information Act bring in total transparency in Indian administration or can the existing legislations, like official secret act defeat the very purpose of openness and transparency.
Irengbam Arun, Editor of the daily newspaper, Ireibak said that one of the most important objectives for effective implementation of the Act should be empowerment of civil society to ensure that transparency and accountability become the norm for governance.
"India is a vast country that corruption-free governance cannot be established purely by relying upon the various investigative agencies and institutions," he said in his paper.
Meanwhile, RK Angousana, chief information commissioner, Manipur participating in the programme said that the main objective of the RTI Act 2005 is to promote transparency and accountability in the working of every departments of the government in all levels in the country and eliminate the scourge of corruption.
He said the notion that everything about the government is secret unless there is strong reason for releasing it, has to be replaced by the new doctrine that all information should be made available to the people unless there are strong reasons for denying it.
The programme was inaugurated by information minister, TN Haokip who in his short speech, said public authority are to be careful while providing information to the person seeking information as sometimes it can cause trouble to the governance.
He also observed that public authority must aware of what information sought by a public could be given after due consideration to impact to the government after giving away the information.
In his speech as prsident of the function, information commisioner P Bharat opined of voiding obtaining information with threats under the shadow of RTI and also appealed the public not to use the information they obtained from public authority in the wrong way.
The technical session which resource persons presented their papers on different topics realted with RTI was moderated by retired IIS, Seram Mangi Singh.
Cheif information officer RK Angousana presented his paper on RTI act-an instrument to ensure transperency and accountabality of the government, BB Sharma on RTI Act versus disclosure of official secrecy, Ch Narendra senior lecturer, LMS Law College on RTI Act - the concept.
Re: `RTI less effective alongside Official Secrets Act`
As reported by The Sangai Express on e-pao.net on 13 April 2008:
Seminar on RTI held : 13th apr08 ~ E-Pao! Headlines
Seminar on RTI held
Imphal, April 12: Right To Information (RTI) Act is an instrument to strengthen democracy with good governance and transparency of the Government, said Information Minister TN Haokip during the one-day Sensitisation Seminar on RTI held at Manipur Press Club today.
The Minister asserted that any document related to Government can be screened or scrutinised after obtaining permission from the RTI office.
He however, said that there will be some restriction in some Government documents which come under prohibited information.
Citing media role on RTI, TN Haokip contended that there is vital role for media while reporting the importance of the Act by disseminating in simple, easy and understandable language to the general public so that it serves the purpose.
The seminar was organized by Manipur Directorate of Information and Public Relation (DIPR).
After inception of the Right to Information (RTI) Act in Manipur, 143 cases have been filed of which 112 cases have been already disposed off, revealed Manipur RTI commissioner RK Angousana was replying to the participants' queries on the Act during technical session.
The RTI commissioner maintained that through RTI Act, many people have got their grievances cleared and information being addressed as well.
He also said that the Manipur State Government has been handling the awareness programmes on RTI.
In Manipur, 13 cases through RTI have been compensated, said Angousana adding people can seek information on any Governmental works by paying Rs 10 .