Indian Government Retreats on Most RTI Proposals

25 March 2011

The Indian government has backed down on most of its controversial proposals to amend the right to know law, following pressure from the National Advisory Council.

The government is sticking with a proposal to limit applications to one subject, however, according to the Council minutes and a report in the Hindustan Times

NAC member Aruna Roy told the Council that agreement had been reached on all other matters. The Department of Personnel and Training also had proposed a 250 word limit of RTI applications  and that applications would automatically be vacated if the requestor died.

A section of the Council  minutes released March 24, states:

Ms Aruna Roy Convener of the Working Group on Transparency, Accountability and Governance informed the Council that the Working Group formulated its recommendations after several rounds of consultation with members of the civil society and the Dept of Personnel and Training (DoPT). The DoPT and the NAC had worked out an agreement on all issues except the one amendment proposed by the DoPT restricting all RTI applications to “one subject matter”. Areas of agreement include, enhancement of word limit from 250 words to 500 words and also to drop the Rules relating to abatement of RTI application upon death of applicant. With regard to restricting all RTI applications to “one subject matter”, NAC decided to recommend that the restriction to “one subject matter” be dropped from the purview of the proposed amendments to the RTI Rules. The final recommendation of the NAC in this regard is as follows:

“Provided that the request for information shall ordinarily not exceed 500 words, excluding annexures, the address of the Central PIO and the address of the applicant. Provided further that no application shall be rejected on the above ground”

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