CS seeking to shut down RTI Act, charges FGG

Forum for Good Governance (FGG) on Thursday urged Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan to instruct Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar to withdraw the recent order which seeks to prevent Public Information Officers (PIOs) from providing any information to the public under the RTI Act.

In a communication to the Governor, a copy of which was released to the media, FGG secretary M. Padmanabha Reddy informed her that CS under the pretext of certain officers furnishing information in a “routine manner and without proper verification” had sought to put curbs in the information flow, but this would only result in “closing down the RTI Act”.

If some officers are giving information in a ‘routine manner’, they should be trained but their “independence and discretionary powers” cannot be taken away as it goes against the spirit of the RTI Act. Even the Supreme Court had upheld these powers of the PIOs and hence, the CS cannot meddle with an Act passed by Parliament, maintained the secretary

Mr. Reddy accused the TS government of being “not interested” in implementing the RTI Act and pointed out that the information commissioners were appointed only after the FGG approached the courts and subsequent orders were passed. Ordering the PIOs to seek permission from the special CS, principal secretaries and department heads before giving any information would only make citizens wait for a long time for the information sought and also add to the workload of the bureaucracy, he said.

The secretary pointed out that the Government had already resorted to shutting down website for uploading GOs, when other States were making them public, from 2016 onwards barring access to people and ‘preventing transparency in administration’.It had not even filed a counter to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by FGG in the High Court, said Mr. Reddy. The RTI Act, in fact, had helped in exposing some scams as “corruption in administration is rampant” in TS, he added.

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Printable version | Dec 7, 2021 6:02:06 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/cs-seeking-to-shut-down-rti-act-says-fgg/article37116266.ece

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