The RTI community has been very vigilant and has managed to prevent any amendment of the RTI Act, despite attempts from as early as 2006, a year after its passage in Parliament. Since the RTI act came into effect it has proved to be a powerful means to fight corruption and the arbitrary use of power. The vigilance and protest by the RTI community kept the establishment from proceeding with the dormant and explicit desire to curtail transparency and accountability entitlements. We are now informed that the Government is thinking of moving amendments to the RTI Act in the coming session of Parliament, to negate the CIC order declaring that political parties are public authorities under the RTI Act. It is likely that these amendments will seek to not only address this issue but to curtail various other entitlements that have now established the ability of the RTI to fight corruption and the arbitrary use of power by the establishment.
We appeal to you for your help and support. We are petitioning the PM, and we request your endorsement. We feel your support, along with that of others, will represent an important consensus of opinion in the public domain against amendments to the RTI Act.
The petition to the PM may also please be forwarded to a range of people to endorse. This needs to be widely publicized and support needs to be drawn from a cross section of users across sectors, to rapidly build public opinion before the commencement of the Monsoon session of Parliament.
Please sign the below petition or email your endorsement to firstname.lastname@example.org
With warm regards,
Bharat Dogra, Shekhar Singh, Shailesh Gandhi, Harsh Mander, Aruna Roy
India’s governance is going through a credibility crisis as never before, in which all sectors of governance and social formations have been suspect. The political establishment has come in for most severe criticism, just and unjust.
Perhaps the only real argument for the credibility of the government continues to be the enactment and implementation of the RTI Act. It has been an entitlement which has kept the intent of a free and open system of governance afloat. The multiple uses of the Act to improve government functioning are so many that they defy enumeration. The use of the RTI is therefore seen as the one stated intent of the government to lay itself open to scrutiny, and therefore accountability.
The series of attempts to amend the Act, which have arisen periodically, have since 2006 been nullified to a large extent by public pressure as well as the political will of a part of the establishment and government.
It is reported that the Government is considering the introduction of a bill in Parliament to amend the RTI law, as a sharp reaction to the recent Central Information Commission order, which declared six political parties to be public authorities under the RTI Act. Such a move to amend the Act will reinforce and confirm the suspicions of many that the political establishment intends to cover acts of corruption and arbitrary use of power.
We, as citizens of India, empowered by the RTI Act, demand that it not be amended. The Act has enabled the making of informed choices and strengthened participatory democracy; by enabling the citizens of India to monitor and access services throughout the country. Any amendment to the RTI Act would undermine and weaken the process of realizing various constitutional promises. In 2009, when amendments were being proposed to the RTI Act, the concerned minister of the government had assured Parliament, in response to a question, that “Non- Governmental Organisations and Social activists will be consulted on the proposed amendments.” We would, therefore, expect the government to hold wide ranging public discussions before they think of amending the law in any way.
We are confident that the government will recognise the force of our demand and not take steps to amend and thereby dilute the Right to Information law, which has been acknowledged in India and abroad, as an affirmation of the right of Indian citizens to participate in, and monitor, democratic governance.