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No dilution of RTI Act: PM

The government, prime minister Manmohan Singh said, stands committed to a comprehensive agenda of legal, executive and technology initiatives to curb corruption and improve governance and considered the Right to Information to be a powerful tool to enable it to move in that direction

New Delhi: Making it clear that there will be no dilution of the Right to Information (RTI) Act, prime minister Manmohan Singh today said government wishes to make Right to Information an ‘even more effective instrument’ for ensuring transparency but wanted a critical look at it to address certain concerns, reports PTI.

Mr Singh said the transparency law should not adversely affect deliberative processes in the government and discourage honest, well meaning public servants from voicing their views.

Addressing the two-day annual convention of the Central Information Commission here, Mr Singh said, “We wish to make the Right to Information an even more effective instrument for ensuring transparency and accountability in administration.”

He said there was a need to strike a balance between disclosure of information and the limited time and resources available with public authorities.

“The Right to Information should not adversely affect the deliberative processes in the government,” he said adding, “We must take a critical look at it. There are concerns that need to be discussed and addressed.”

There have been demands for amending the transparency law by certain sections of government who feel it is “transgressing” into their functioning.

Amendments to the RTI Act and exemptions given to security agencies from making disclosures under it are expected to be debated at the conference being attended by information commissioners.

“Another concern that has been raised is that the Right to Information could end up discouraging honest, well meaning public servants from giving full expression to their views.

“I think we need to remember here that a point of view brought under public scrutiny and discussion in an isolated manner may sometimes present a distorted or incomplete picture of what really happened in the processes of making the final decisions,” he said.

Mr Singh said that a legislation for protection of whistleblowers would be enacted in the next few months to help prevention of violence against those who seek to expose wrongdoings in the public administration.

The government, he said, stands committed to a comprehensive agenda of legal, executive and technology initiatives to curb corruption and improve governance and considered the Right to Information to be a powerful tool to enable it to move in that direction.

“I think we need to remember here that a point of view brought under public scrutiny and discussion in an isolated manner may sometimes present a distorted or incomplete picture of what really happened in the processes of making the final decisions,” he said.

He asked the participating information commissioners to come up with concrete suggestions in the area of exemption clauses in the RTI Act.

“We must also take a critical look at the exemption clauses in the Right to Information Act to determine whether they serve the larger good and whether a change is needed in them,” Mr Singh said.

The prime minister said there are “issues of privacy” which need to be deliberated upon.

“There are also issues of privacy. The Act does have provisions to deal with privacy issues but there are certain grey areas that require further debate,” he said.

He asked the information commissioners and other participants of the convention to make recommendations for dealing with vexatious RTI applications.

“A situation in which a public authority is flooded with requests for information having no bearing on public interest is something not desirable.

“We must, therefore, pool all our wisdom, our knowledge, and our experience to come to a conclusion on how to deal with vexatious demands for information, without at the same time hindering the flow of information to those whose demands genuinely serve public interest,” he said.

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