"DoPT is against the concept of RTI"
Information CommissionerO.P. Kejariwal speaks out on the working of the RTI Act.
Why have RTI activists turned against the CIC?
They had very high expectations of us. RTI is an evolving concept, the Act is still new. I admit we are not very organised because of which cases have piled up. But the pendancy is gradually coming down.
Why are erring PIOs not being penalised? Is the penalty clause not central to the Act?
<EL1><EL1>Obviously it is central to the Act and must be acted upon. I admit that we have imposed penalties in only a small fraction of cases but the number is rising. Earlier Public Information Officers would plead ignorance of the Act. Today this is just an excuse. In the last week alone, I have imposed penalties in four cases. Then there is the question of realisation of penalty, where I'm afraid our record is quite poor. So far I'm aware of only one case — where I had imposed two penalties — where we received the cheques.
The DoPT and the CIC are still at loggerheads over file notings.
<EL1><EL1>I just cannot understand why even after the CIC's full bench decision in favour of file notings, the DoPT has not dropped its website posting to the contrary. The sad thing is that it is a wing of the Government which is causing this confusion. Do you know that in the DoPT's own manual of office procedure file notings are shown as an inherent part of a file? They are going against their own manual!
Would you call the DoPT anti-RTI?
<EL1>That is obvious. It would seem to me that it is against the RTI concept, at least against a very vital element of that concept.
Would you blame the government as a whole for this mess?
The DoPT's stand stares you in the face. As for the rest of the Government, it has to be remembered that this Government introduced this revolutionary Act, they call it their flagship legislation. That is why it is strange that one wing of the Government should try to reduce the Act's value.
<EL1>What difficulty has this created for you?
<EL1>As recently as a month back, a PIO cited the DoPT's website posting to say he cannot disclose file notings. We are overruling all this but this is not a very happy situation.
The DoPT has also questioned your power to interpret the Act. Can you tell High Court judges or Supreme Court judges not to interpret the law? The DoPT is also creating other difficulties like questioning the validity of our single-bench decisions. You cannot interpret an Act in a manner so as to frustrate the very functioning this organisation. The RTI Act provides for ten commissioners. According to the DoPT, all of us have to collectively hear all the cases as a full bench. This will make the commission a laughing stock.
The Hindu : Opinion / News Analysis : "DoPT is against the concept of RTI"