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इंडियन आवाज़     19 Sep 2021 05:38:07      انڈین آواز

Supreme Court finds RTI replies unreliable

By MADHU AGRAWAL

It refers to the news-item (Bar and Bench 09.07.2021) that a Supreme Court bench made an observation on 09.07.2021 that RTI replies are not very reliable. Observation was not only generic but even was crucial in the case before the Bench. If even the Apex Court has such an observation, then there is no logic in continuing with spending so much on carrying on with the transparency Act legislated in the year 2005 which became instrumental in exposing big scams like CWG-2010, coal-block and spectrum allocation. Supreme Court observations will make High Courts and lower courts also declining to accept RTI replies as evidence in court-cases. It would have been better if Supreme Court judges making such observation out of their own experiences would have mentioned their such experiences in their verdict directing authorities to take action against the concerned ones in public-authorities for giving unreliable RTI replies.

However it is a fact that improper replies are given under RTI Act. At times, information exempted under section 8 of RTI Act is also provided also defying Apex Court orders, just before the matter reaches Central Information Commission (CIC) out of fear of being penalised by CIC. Misuse of RTI Act for publicity-seeking, black-mailing and yellow-journalism is increasing day-by-day which needs proper training and consultancy in public-authorities apart from tightening RTI rules which includes making RTI fees uniform for all public-authorities at rupees 50 with cost of first 20 copied pages included in basic suggested fees of rupees 50 with no further fees charged at level of First and Second Appeals, and making it compulsory to enclose copy of Identity Proof with each RTI application, First and Second Appeals in accordance with verdict of Punjab and Haryana High Court dated 02.11.2012 by Punjab and Haryana High Court in the matter -Fruit and Merchant Union vs Unknown (CWP No. 4787 of 2011)- (page 23).

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