Saturday, March 21, 2015

Stifling RTI?

(via Madhukar Shukla) When the haze takes over: "The NDA seems bent on subverting the RTI Act. Is the slow dismembering of the CIC part of the plan?"
"A far more sinister plot, however, is now unravelling. Through a March 11, 2015 letter, the PMO has for the first time seized control over the administration of the Central Information Commission (CIC)—delivering a decisive, fatal blow to the RTI Act. The damning letter sent by the department of personnel and training (DoPT)—which works directly under Prime Minister Narendra Modi—to the CIC, in three short paragraphs, delegates the financial powers of the commission, so far vested in its chief, to a government-app­ointed secretary of the CIC, a bureaucrat on a leash.
“The secretary is not a legal authority and finds no mention in the RTI Act. All financial and administrative powers of the CIC are by law vested only in the chief information commissioner,” says Wajahat Habibullah, who was the first ever chief information commissioner of the country. “This decision can be challenged in any court as there is no law allo­wing the government to take into its hands the functioning of the commission in the absence of the chief.
With the CIC being headless for seven months, for the first time in a decade, the delegation of the chief’s financial powers to the secretary is being read as a ploy to indefinitely defer the appointment.”

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