Group Seek Uniformity in Indian State RTI Rules

18 May 2011

The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative has asked the Indian Department of Personnel and Training, Government to address a lack of uniformity with regard to right to information rules by state governments and the High Courts.

One problem, according to the letter is that “Parliament can annul or modify Rules made by the Central Government but it cannot annul or modify Rules made by the State Governments howsoever bad they may be.” Also, state legislatures lack the power to modify or annul rules made by the state governments.

“As a result retrograde Rules such as word limits, subject matter restrictions, higher fee rates and demand for citizenship proof from applicants go unchallenged,” according to Venkatesh Nayak, Programme Coordinator of the CHRI Access to Information Programme.

A second problem, CHRI wrote, is that ”there is no requirement for even tabling the Rules notified by the High Courts before Parliament or any State Legislature.”

Nayak continued: “This is why there has been no challenge to the retrograde RTI Rules notified by many High Courts around the country. As a result Rules imposing additional restrictions on access to information, charging exorbitant fees etc. have remained intact.”

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