CIC calls for transparency in dealing with RTI pleas

New Delhi, July 2 The Central Information Commission (CIC) has asked the Department of Personnel and Training (DOPT) to ensure maximum transparency while dealing with Right to Information (RTI) applications.

The CIC order came on an RTI application of activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal who had sought the file notings of the decision taken by the government first time in 1990 on declaring close day (rather than a holiday) on April 14, the birthday of B.R. Ambdekar.

During the course of Agarwal’s plea, a controversy had erupted when the DOPT had refused to remove the controversial entry on the department’s website which said “file notings” were not to be disclosed under the RTI Act.

However, the controversy was finally put to rest with a recent government circular that clarified that all file notings except on subjects exempted under section 8 of the RTI Act can be disclosed.

The CIC had come down heavily on DOPT officials for violating and disobeying their orders of correcting the mistake on the department’s website and had even served a notice asking two of its officials involved why they should not be prosecuted.

“However, now that compliance has been completed in this matter, not only with the issue of the OM mentioned but also removal of the fallacious entry on the RTI portal maintained by the DOPT website, there will now be no penalty since this had been proposed for knowingly obstructing furnishing of information,” said Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah in his order.

“However, we caution the officers of DOPT which is the nodal authority of the government with regard to implementation of the RTI Act, particularly those manning the RTI Cell, to ensure maximum transparency in disposing of RTI applications so that misunderstanding such as those that arose in the present case are avoided,” he said.

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The CIC directed the DOPT to provide the information asked by Agarwal within 10 working days.

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