Activists list out threats to RTI.
Prominent RTI activists on Tuesday said violence on users, court stay on prominent decisions of the information commission, rulings that limit the scope of RTI and threats from the government through legislations were major challenges facing the Act.
Aruna Roy, member of National Advisory Council (NAC), Shailesh Gandhi, former central information commissioner, Nikhil Dey, member of National Council for People’s Right to Information (NCPRI), Shankar Singh, member of Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS) and other activists listed out these issues during a discussion on the future of RTI at the Bombay Chartered Accountants Society, Marine Lines.
“Every new law that is framed is making it exempt from the RTI Act. You cannot exclude laws from the purview of RTI. SEZ was made without debates and discussions. We have to fight for (proper) legislations. RTI has made some irreversible changes. People are now not willing to accept any dilution. They stand up to say that it is one law… that has given them the power to penalise the system,” said Roy.
Gandhi stated that, besides legislations, “there are increasing orders by the courts that limit the scope of RTI with words like ‘intimidating and suppressing’ when information about bureaucrats is sought”. Dey added: “While RTI has managed to achieve a lot and people have learnt to use it, the system, too, is learning to resist it. Courts now cannot get away staying RTI orders and their moral high-ground (on public interest issues vis-a-vis their own) is now seen.” He stated that there was a need for a country-wide alliance for transparency and accountability.
The NCPRI is to have a convention in Hyderabad from February 16 to 18 this year where they are likely to come out with an RTI directory so that people know who to call in case of problems.