Reality Check India

Morbid clause in RTI should wake us up to its dangers

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on May 26, 2012

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.

Courtesy Hindu > Candle light vigil  taken when RTI Activist Amit Jethwa was shot dead

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.



3 Responses

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  1. […] Source : Morbid clause in RTI […]

  2. Mr X said, on July 10, 2012 at 9:33 am

    Unfortunately, you are absolutely right !

    Look at New Zealand, everything *must* be put out on a website whether people request for it or not.

    Harassment of whistleblowers and information seekers is so commonplace. Even the supposedly Gandhian “Gandhi Smarak Nidhi” tried to harass their utensil cleaner (one S Chandran) when he apparently made some allegations. If a Gandhian organisation can do that then definitely others will do much more evil ! In this case (2011) the judge even chided the Gandhi Smarak Nidhi for behaving like any “ordinary litigant”. The big mockery of justice is that the Gandhi Smarak Nidhi has some former judges at the very top who are professedly very Gandhian.

    All these public funded and NGO organisations should be made to publish their accounts on a web site mandatorily and be liable for inaccurate reporting. Only that can save lives lost in RTI murders. Only that will reduce the ongoing harassment of whistle blowers.

  3. Admin said, on October 18, 2016 at 10:48 pm

    Mandatory disclosure is the the bell that is hard to tie around government’s neck. Modi could have done that but then Modi’s regime will be more remembered for “he did not do that” than things he did.

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