Indian CIC Takes Steps to Stem Attacks on RTI Users

12 October 2011

The Indian Central Information Commission has adopted a potential deterrent to attacks on users of the right to information law.

The CIC announced it will react to assaults on RTI activists by pressing government agencies to promptly release all the requested materials.

The Commission also said it will keep track of investigations into attacks. Estimates indicate more than two dozen requesters were attacked in 2010 and several died.

Information Commission Shailesh Gandhi, who circulated the proposal adopted Oct. 4, said, “If the information seeker is attacked all the information will automatically be available in the public domain and the purpose of the attack to prevent information to be made public will be defeated,” according to the report in the Hindustan Times.

“As soon as 10-15 such actions are taken, it will prove as a deterrent. People who want to hurt an RTI activist, they do it to stop the information coming out. But if such info is released I think it means they are doing more damage to themselves so the expectation is that such incidents will go down,” said Shailesh, according to an IBNLive report.

The commission decision to follow the police investigations.  “In most cases the RTI applicants are common people and do not have that sort of influence which the attackers may have,” Gandhi said.

The Times of India wrote that RTI activists “welcomed the move.”

The paper said: “Milind Mulay, an activist, said people will think twice before attacking an RTI activist. Another activist, Chetan Kothari, felt the move will increase transparency and reduce fraud. He felt that publicizing information sought by victims of assault will help people understand the gravity of issues RTI activists seek to expose.”

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