Move to amend RTI fires citizen protest
The UPA government’s proposed bid to amend the Right to Information (RTI) Act, in order to avoid compliance with the June 3 CIC order bringing records of political parties within RTI’s ambit, is sparking widespread citizen criticism and mobilisation. (Pl read the links below for more info on RTI and the bid to amend it)
An online petition put out by the National Campaign for the People’s Right to Information has already attracted close to 28,000 signatures, amid growing concern that the government will introduce an amendment within days during the ongoing parliamentary session.
Ongoing public protests in various parts of the country, as well as citizen efforts to appeal to individual MPs, are also reiterating the grassroots opposition to any attempt to roll back the act’s powers. Citizen groups are also planning to mark August 15 as a day of protest.
The proposed amendment, already approved by the cabinet last week, will reportedly alter the act in a single blanket move to state that the definition of ‘public authority’ in it will not apply to political parties registered under Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
As the NCPRI petition says, there is fear that changes to the law, if approved by parliament, will have implications going much beyond the specific ruling of the CIC. The Association for Democratic Reforms, the body which filed the CIC appeal in October 2010, has consistently argued the ruling is critical, since citizens currently have no way of accessing crucial information about political parties, including sources of funding.
Politicians across the board counter that they are amending the act to prevent malicious RTI requests against their parties – but RJD politician Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, engaging in some plain speaking, has said this week that he is ashamed of the political class’s bid to ensure RTI does not apply to it.
NCPRI Press Release dated 5 August, 2013 (please click here)
FAQs-Political Parties under RTI: Myths Busted, please click here
Bangalore-RTI Amendment Press Conference Press Release, 6 August, 2013, http://www.im4change.org/latest-news-updates/bangalore-rti
Landmark judgement of CIC (June 3, 2013), please click here
Myths about RTI & political parties, http://adrindia.org/media/adr-in-news/myths-about-rti-poli
Global Corruption Barometer 2013 prepared by Transparency International,
Why the CPI says no to RTI -S Sudhakar Reddy, The Indian Express, 10 July, 2013,
Amendments to RTI Act: Aruna Roy slams UPA government, DNA, 6 August, 2013,
Enough transparency without RTI: Govt
The Telegraph, 3 August, 2013, http://www.im4change.org/latest-news-updates/enough-transp
Accounting for accountability, The Hindu, 3 August, 2013, http://www.im4change.org/latest-news-updates/accounting-fo
Government moves to keep political parties off RTI radar -Deepshikha Ghosh, NDTV, 30 July, 2013, http://www.im4change.org/latest-news-updates/government-mo
Photo Courtesy: Inclusive Media for Change