President Shri Pranab Mukherjee has called upon public authorities to be proactive and voluntarily put information in the public domain for the use of citizens. Inaugurating the Eighth Annual Convention of Central Information Commission in New Delhi today, he said a large number of appeals/complaints before the Commission, however, are also indicative of the need for enhancement in the quality of voluntary disclosure so that information seekers are not required to join long queues. Shri Mukherjee said there is a wafer thin difference between what is public and what is private. He said the RTI Act has provisions which deal with such issues, but there are certain areas which need further clarity. There is perhaps need to create an arrangement that will provide protection to individuals in case their privacy is breached through unlawful means the President added.
Complementing the Central Information Commission the President said the Commission combines within itself the role of a regulator, adjudicator and advisor implementing the Right to Information Act. He said it has been actively working with the Planning Commission to build in disclosure obligations in the Public Private Partnership arrangements. At its initiative, a message on RTI is going to be printed on the cover pages of all NCERT school books.
Earlier welcoming the President and other guests the Union Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions Shri V Narayanasamy said that through RTI the Government has aimed at creating an empowered citizenry, armed with information to maintain a vigil on the instruments of governance and make the Government visibly accountable to the governed. He said one of the important impacts of the RTI regime can be seen from the change in the mindset of bureaucracy. The regime has led to more reasoned and judicious use of powers by the bureaucracy.
The Minister said RTI Act is today the biggest weapon in the hands of the media. Media plays a significant role especially in empowering citizens by keeping them informed and by playing a catalytic role in providing a voice to the ˜voiceless™. He said the RTI not only allows the media in playing ˜constructive role in empowering people but also in strengthening democratic polity™. Shri Narayanasamy said the Government is also seeking the participation of our citizens living abroad in the process of national building. Launch of Electronic Indian Postal Order (e-IPO) for citizens living abroad is a step in this regard, the Minister added.
Tomorrow the convention will have two sessions on RTI- an anti-corruption tool and Media & RTI. The panellists for the session on RTI- an anti-corruption tool are Shri J M Lyngdoh, former Chief Election Commissioner, Shri Pratyush Sinha, former Chief Vigilance Commissioner, Shri ML Sharma, IC, CIC, Shri Shailesh Gandhi, former, IC, CIC, Shri Subhash C Agrawal, RTI activist and Shri Nikhil De, Member, MKSS. The panelists for the session on Media and RTI are Shri Siddharth Varadarajan, Editor-in-Chief, The Hindu, Ms Sonia Singh, Editorial Director, NDTV, Shri Rajkumar Keswani, former Editor, Dainik Bhaskar, and Smt Deepak Sandhu, IC, CIC.