The Union Home Minister Shri Rajnath
Singh inaugurated the 2-day 11th Annual Convention of Central Information
Commission (CIC) here today.
While delivering the inaugural
address, Shri Rajnath Singh said that Right to Information (RTI) Act is a
powerful medium of two-way communication between the citizens and the
Government. On the one hand, the citizens get information through this act and
on the other hand, the Government gets new ideas for formulating
people-friendly policy and to reform the governance system, when people ask such
information. The Government system should use it effectively, he added. He also
said that our system needs to be corruption-free, smart, sensitive, transparent
and answerable for making all the programmes of the Government a success and
RTI can play an important role in it. RTI Act provides a strong foundation to
the feeling of trust and cooperation which is important for the governance
based upon trust.
Shri Rajnath Singh said that
programmes like ‘My Gov.in’ website provide a platform for two-way communication
between the Government and the citizens. This benefits both – the citizens and
the Government, he added. He also said that the ‘Top-down’ approach is now
getting converted into ‘Bottom-up’ approach. The Home Minister said that now
maximum possible information is being made available on the websites of
Government departments and agencies. This transformation has gained momentum
after the advent of RTI Act. He also recalled that the Prime Minister had said
last year that the dream of ‘Digital India’ is closely linked with the
transparent government. This means that the maximum information the Government
makes available online, the transparency of the Government increases to that
extent. The Union Home Minister also emphasised on the need of an ‘Integrated
Response System’, where every citizen has a Single Window to reach the
Government for fulfilment of his needs.
During the day, the Convention had
arranged four technical sessions covering various aspects of institutional
governance in India and its implications on RTI.
The technical session on RTI
in Railways was chaired by Shri Bimal Julka, Information Commissioner and
Shri Amitava Bhattacharyya, Information Commissioner along with Shri Mohd.
Jamshed, Member (Traffic), Ministry of Railways. The speakers from Railways
mainly stressed on proactive disclosure under section 4 of the Act to minimise
the use of public resources in information dissemination.
The Department of Personnel and
Training (DoPT) convened a session on the RTI online web portal. This
portal is expected to cover almost half the public authorities in near future.
Another technical session on RTI
in Public Sector Undertakings was chaired by Shri Sudhir Bhargava, Information
Commissioner and Shri Divya Prakash Sinha, Information Commissioner along with
Dr. U.D Choubey, Director General, SCOPE. In this session PSUs namely National
Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC), Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL), Rajasthan
Electronics & Instruments Limited (REIL) and South Eastern Coalfields
Limited (SECL) deliberated on key issues concerning the implementation of the
RTI Act in their respective Public Sector Undertakings.
Today’s last technical session
on RTI in Regulators such as RBI and IRDAI, Banks and Insurance
companies was chaired by Shri Sharat Sabharwal, Information Commissioner and
Smt. Manjula Prasher, Information Commissioner. In this session, the
deliberations were centred on the broad channels of public interaction by banks
in the country and the mediums of dissemination of information related to
public at large which consists of branch network, press releases, digital
signage, town hall meetings etc.
The technical sessions broadly
focussed on the status of RTI implementation in Railways, PSUs and the
Financial Sector public authorities and their efforts towards ensuring timely
and accurate replies, improvements in suo- motu disclosures, use of technology
to expedite processes and governance reforms based on analysis of RTI requests.
Tomorrow, Academic papers on
topics like Success and Failure of the Right to Information Act, Harnessing IT
for RTI in an Institute of Higher Learning, RTI as an instrument of Change, Right
to Petition to Right to Information etc. will be discussed.