Modi govt has diluted RTI: Congress

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on January 15, 2018 Published on April 03, 2017

Manish Tewari, Congress leader

Party cites new rules, practices to prove ‘subversion’ of the facility

The Congress has alleged that the Narendra Modi government had “formalised” the process of “subverting” the Right to Information (RTI) Act by changing its rules.

Party spokesperson Manish Tewari told reporters that in the last three years there have been “non-formal attempts” to scuttle the RTI Act.

Tewari said the new draft rules put out by the Centre say that if an RTI application is of more than 500 words, it can be rejected. “There has been steep enhancement in RTI charges. What you were getting for a nominal cost per page of photocopy, has been doubled,” said Tewari, who was a minister in the erstwhile Manmohan Singh Cabinet.

He said even the cost of postage and the cost of the reply will now have to be borne by the applicant. “In other words, very surreptitiously, the bar is being raised to make the RTI paradigm difficult for ordinary people to access,” he added.

He said the amended rules also say that if there is a handwritten appeal, not neatly typed in double space, it can be rejected. “So you are imposing a cost on the poor and disenfranchised. There is also a provision which allows public authority or the first appellate authority to file counter appeals. This essentially means the whole process of seeking information will now become a judicial proceeding,” he said.

Tewari claimed that one of the first steps of the erstwhile UPA government had taken was to enact the RTI Act, in 2005. “This piece of legislation was perhaps the single most empowering instrument that had been enacted in the past 70 years. RTI Act created an upheaval, not only in the echelons of government but had wide ramifications which reached out to every village,” he said and added that the Congress-led government never allowed any dilution to take place in the RTI paradigm.

Published on April 03, 2017
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