Special Correspondent

It is incongruous with the regime of transparency

National Security Act should incorporate safeguards for state security Each State should have public records office

NEW DELHI: The second Administrative Reforms Commission has recommended that the Official Secrets Act, 1923, be repealed saying it is incongruous with the regime of transparency in a democratic society.

Safeguards for state security should be incorporated in the National Security Act, says the Commission, whose Chairman Veerappa Moily submitted the first report on `Right to Information - Master key to good governance' to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here on Friday.

Other key recommendations include total reorganisation of public records for effective implementation of the Right to Information (RTI) Act. An office should be set up in each State as a repository of expertise, to monitor all records. One per cent of the funds for all flagship government programmes should be earmarked for five years for updating records and building infrastructure.

At least half the members of the Information Commission (IC) should be drawn from a non-civil service background. Thus the members will represent variety and experience in society.

The IC should be entrusted with monitoring implementation of the RTI Act in all public authorities.

Clear guidelines should be evolved to determine which non-governmental organisations come under the Act.

Most requests for information are for redress of grievances. The States may be advised to establish independent public authorities to deal with complaints of delay, harassment and corruption.

A road map should be chalked out for effective implementation of the RTI Act in the legislature and the judiciary at all levels.

The Second Administrative Reforms Commission, constituted in August 2005, took up a study of four subjects initially: Right to information; the Employment Guarantee Act in the context of the shift to entitlement with Union funding; crisis management; and public order and conflict management.