Press Information Bureau
Government of India
Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions
16-October-2015 18:36 IST
Information online brings transparency; “Digital India” initiative is complimentary to RTI; says Prime Minister

Two Day 10th Annual Convention of the Central Information Commission starts Today

The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, today described the "Right To Information" Act as a tool through which the common man has got not just the right to know, but also the right to question those in power. In his remarks at the 10th Annual Convention of the Central Information Commission (CIC), the Prime Minister said that the Union Government's "Digital India" initiative is complimentary to RTI, because putting information online brings transparency, which in turn, builds trust.

The Prime Minister called for an end to the silo-approach in Government. He said administrative processes should be run based on trusting the people, rather than doubting the people. The Prime Minister said RTI has become a tool for good governance. He also described how the Pro Active Governance and Timely Implementation (PRAGATI) platform developed in the PMO has become a vibrant platform for monitoring progress of projects.

During his address, the Union Minister of Finance, Corporate Affairs and Information and Broadcasting, Shri Arun Jaitley complemented the Central Information Commissioners and State Information Commissioners on the completion of a decade of RTI Act’s functioning. Terming RTI as an ‘exemplary law’, he said that it has transformed the society and India has passed the first stage of ‘civilized governance’. He said that the use of technology has made it more effective, less time-consuming and cost-effective. Commenting upon the constraints and apprehensions related to RTI Act, he said that sometimes too much openness is considered to be bad for governance. In this case, the administrators of the Act should use their discretion to achieve a balance between right to information and prevent its misuse at the same time, he said. Shri Jaitley said a line needs to be drawn between the public domain and privacy issue, while implementing the Act. The Act is of great utility to the society and will continue to grow and gain maturity, he added.

Dr. Jitendra Singh, the Minister of State for Development of North Eastern Region (Independent Charge), Prime Minister’s Office, Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, Department of Atomic Energy, Department of Space in his address stated that privileges, Official Secrets Act, Independence and Democracy are the learning experiences in direction of people’s urge for information. He mentioned that transparency in Government, ease of governance and citizen centric governance are the main pillars of governance of the present Government and are in sync with the directions by the Prime Minister of India for “Maximum governance and Minimum Government”.

In his welcome address Shri Vijay Sharma, Chief Information Commissioner said that Commission is looking at the RTI Act as timely, relevant and usable legislation. He mentioned that after one decade, the time has come for stock taking of the past experiences and stage setting for the future. Shri Sharma said that there is a need for appraisal and analysis of previous experiences and making the legislation more accessible, transparent for its future users. The Central Information Commissioner also highlighted the need for autonomy, fairness and trust required for better implementation of the RTI Act.

The Chief Information Commissioner also highlighted the themes of “Translating RTI into Citizen Welfare-the expanding horizons in Digital India; Rationalizing the nature and scope of the Act; Gaps; implications for use and misuse; RTI seeks a ‘practical regime; Are we doing enough for transparency in governance; Privacy in time of RTI and Making RTI Work better: experience from the States,” which are being deliberated in the two-day Conference.

Eminent panelists including Shri Wajahat Habibullah and Shri Satyananda Mishra, former CICs, Shri Yashovardhan Azad and Prof. M S Acharyulu, Central Information Commissioners, Ms Anjali Bhardwaj from National Campaign for Peoples' Right to Information (NCPRI), Shri Ram Sewak Sharma, Chairman, TRAI, Shri J S Deepak, Secretary, National e Governance Division, Department of Electronics & Information Technology, Shri B. Ashok, CMD, Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. and Shri D R Karthikeyan, former Director, CBI shared their views with the audience during the technical sessions.

On the completion of ten years of RTI Act, the first CIC of India, Shri Wajahat Habibullah said that the scope of RTI should not be limited only to know, but should also aim at ‘public participation’ in the process of governance through RTI.

Shri Sanjay Kothari, Secretary, DoPT called upon the Information Commissioners to conduct a studies on any subject based upon the analysis of RTI queries, as suggested by the Prime Minister of India. This study will help in the improvement of policies, he added.

On the second day of the two-day conference tomorrow, the technical sessions will be held on important themes related to the RTI Act such as issue of privacy in the times of RTI and Making RTI work better: experience from the states. Eminent panelists including Justice A. P Shah, Former Chairman, Law Commission of India and Shri T K Viswanathan, Former Secretary General, Lok Sabha are likely to address the audience.