Things (for you) to do: RTI Act

1. Read this notice on amendments to the Right To Information (RTI) Act, and/or the summary below. Also read some of news stories listed here.
2. Spread the Word: Blog about it/Write to the media about it.
3. Join the protests: Go here and sign the petitions. Maybe even troop down to Jantar Mantar.

A introduction to the RTI Act and the procedure with samples is here. Read about the proposed amendments here.

A brief summary:
The RTI Act allows Indians to question their government and the bureaucracy for its actions/lack of action. The authorities have to respond within 30 days with written (hence legally admissable) answers, else face penalisation. The proposed amendments to seek to dilute the act in the following manner:

  • Decisions by the bureaucracy are based on observations/recommendations to proposals by bureaucrats, called file notings. It is intended that file notings should not be made public, hence there will be no individual public accountability of bureaucrats.
  • Only developmental and social issues shall be liable for the RTI. That limits its scope.
  • (I’m told that) with the amendment, answers to queries will only be given to you after the task you’re asking about has been completed. Makes the RTI less potent.

What’s the hurry?
A journalist informed me yesterday (so this is hearsay) that the RTI Amendments will be tabled within 10 days (before 22nd August), and it is intended that it will be passed by a mere voice-vote (whether Aye or Nay is shouted loudest).

Some observations:
I was discussed the RTI Act with AJ, a lawyer in the making. She made some interesting observations:

  • The RTI Act is not a fundamental right, hence can be diluted/amended.
  • The RTI Act has been around for only 10 months, so for a majority of our population, it has hardly made any difference. We wont miss it. Most of us haven’t yet felt the difference it can make, and had it been around for 10-12 years, the government wouldn’t have dared to consider amending it, fearing the backlash
  • The media is airing stories that don’t impact the urban consumer, so s/he wont react.

So whatcha gonna do?

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