Government proposes to strengthen RTI Act: Chavan


New Delhi : Minister of State for Personnel and Public Grievances Prithviraj Chavan Wednesday said the government will amend laws to strengthen the Right to Information (RTI) Act to enable easy access to information in non-strategic areas.

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“In this regard, it is proposed to review the number of organisations in the second schedule to the RTI Act, 2005, and make rules for more disclosures of information by public authorities,” Chavan told parliament in a written reply to a question.

He said the government has received representations expressing doubts about the proposed amendments and that NGOs and social activists would be consulted on the proposed changes.

However, no time frame can be fixed for the completion of the process, he added.

Several NGOs and RTI activists have expressed reservations over media reports about the government’s proposed amendments to the RTI Act.

Replying to another question, Chavan said: “A study has been conducted through an independent organisation to assess the key issues and constraints in implementation of the RTI Act, 2005.”

“The study points out that there is inadequate planning by the public authorities in regard to supply of information, awareness about the act in rural areas is much less than in urban areas, awareness amongst women is much less than in men, and the gap in implementation of the act is because of lack of clear accountability in respect of various functionaries,” the minister said.

“In this regard, the study recommended measures for improving awareness of the RTI, improving convenience in filling information requests, improving efficiency of the Information Commissions and enhancing accountability and clarity of various stakeholders,” Chavan added.

In reply to another question, he said that a total of 13,322 cases were disposed of by the Central Information Commission (CIC) during 2008-09 as compared to 7,722 in 2007-08. In 2006-07, 4,074 cases were cleared and 682 cases were decided in 2005-06.

Chavan said as on April 1 this year, a total of 8,924 cases were pending before the CIC and to help in early clearance of these cases the government has strengthened the CIC by appointing more Information Commissioners.

“The commission has also taken steps to increase the use of information technology for quick disposal of cases,” he added.