New Delhi: A group of RTI activists representing “Right to Information Activists Social Welfare Society” held a meeting with Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh here today and discussed issues regarding citizens’ right to information and related concerns.
During the meeting, Dr Jitendra Singh allayed fears and apprehensions appearing in a section of media that there was any move by Shri Narendra Modi Government to dilute or curtail the Right To Information. He said, on the contrary, the Government had, in the last four years, worked on the principle of increasing citizen participation in governance, with more accountability and transparency.
Dr Jitendra Singh said, it was during this Government that all the 11 vacancies of the Central Information Commission were sought to be filled by the government whereas, during the earlier times, there had been occasions when sometimes, Information Commission was functioning with just three or four members. Not only this, he said, the pendency of the RTI applications has been tremendously brought down and the time of disposal also curtailed.
Dr Jitendra Singh said, in the last four years, most of the public authorities numbering around 2000 have been brought under the purview of the RTI Act, which was not so before.
Among the various suggestions made by the members of the delegation were that through the RTIs filed through them, they are able to extract certain crucial pieces of information which can be of great importance from the point of view of administration and public service and therefore, there should be a proper institutionalized mechanism to be able to share the same at a wider level for a larger benefit.
The RTI activists shared Dr Jitendra Singh’s concern about frivolous RTI applications and even suggested to the Minister that some kind of a check mechanism could be evolved like, for example, imposing a fine on a frivolous RTI or making it mandatory for the RTI applicant to disclose his Aadhaar number in order to check the possibility of a fake RTI.
The RTI activists were in favour of having a continuous and aggressive awareness campaign to educate the general masses about the utility of RTI for ensuring transparency and at the same time, also cautioning them against the misuse of RTI for mala-fide motives. The Minister appreciated the suggestion and said this suggestion could be further worked upon more constructively.
Among the activists who comprised the delegation were Dr D.C. Prajapati, Dr M.C. Sharma, Iqbal Sanjhi, Pawan Rawat, Vikush Sharma, Anju Chowdhary, Avinash Shukla and others.