Morbid clause in RTI should wake us up to its dangers
I am not a fan of the Right to Information (RTI) law. I have written against it when the entire media was filled with joy and cheer.No, I dont like the RTI Awards and I think RTI kills or injures people unnecessarily. It encourages a ‘dont ask dont tell’ attitude in government instead of mandatory disclosure and open access.
Since I am outraging about other things these days, I almost missed this startling news item about the RTI.
RTI activist Ravinder Balwani was killed a few days ago and there was another candle light vigil in Delhi. The genius drafters Kejriwal and Bhushan were in attendance. This takes the number of people killed to 13 including a social media friend of ours Shehla Masood. Hundreds of people get thrashed routinely. It was time to do something about the deaths.
In a resolution passed recently, the CIC said if it received “a complaint regarding the assault [on] or murder of an information seeker, it will examine the pending RTI applications of the victim and order the concerned department(s) to publish the requested information suo motu on their website as per the provisions of law.”
Source : Hindu (bold mine)
the brilliant thought behind this resolution
“The families would be aware of the RTI applications filed by the victims, and once they complain to us with the details, we will track the applications and ensure that the information sought by the victims is made public.”..Mr. Gandhi said the information would give clues to the identities of the assailants which, in turn, would act a deterrent against attacks. “In my opinion the fear of exposure would work to stop the attacks and murders.”
What he is saying is this ?
- Say you file an RTI wanting to know details about a public project (sand mining, civil works, etc)
- You rub contractors/lessees off and they take care of you. Remember your home address is on the application?
- Your grieving spouse and children can approach the CIC and he will go through the RTI applications filed by the deceased and make all the information public on their website suo moto.
This is exactly what is happening post Ravinder Balwani’s killing.
Balwani’s son and daughter met Gandhi and apprised him of the situation. “They met me on Friday evening and said they would file a complaint with the CIC in connection with their father’s death,” Gandhi said.
Source : HT
Oh ! The black humour of it. The poor kids have lost a parent and the country a concerned citizen. The state now thinks it is TIME TO DISCLOSE SUO MOTO. Incredible.
If you can disclose a piece of information suo moto after a person gets killed, why not disclose it before it ?
Are you having trouble determining if a piece of information is classified, private,or public ? Then maybe you ought to address that problem first. You see, classified and private material are out of bounds – even if someone dies for it. Only a court subpoena can reveal that. Public information should be under a regime of mandatory disclosure. Just put as much as you can on a website. RTI encourages the exact opposite route. By default everything is locked down, then every request is evaluated by an official who determines if it is worthy of dissemination; only to the person requesting it. Who in turn can simply upload it and tell everyone !
This is a lunatic and unnecessary bill, but I hold back because so many lives have been destroyed. Their crime ? Seeking information which should have been open in the first place.