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Millennium Post

Wanted: Independent informers for people

It is of interest that the Supreme Court of India has on Thursday commented on the quality of the appointments to the central information commision and the state commisssions, which enforce the Right to Information Act, as also their functioning. The judges have rightly suggested that the independence of these commissions has to be maintained. They have stated that at present these commissions are headed by people who had been in the good books of the government. The Supreme Court’s observations are correct and it has rightly condemned the lackeys of this government in these RTI posts.

It is true that it has become exceedingly difficult to pry out information from this government, which has become cagey about the truth. People who are  interested in finding out about how government functioning affects their lives and who file RTI applications find a number of hurdles placed in their path and it is no longer easy to get to the truth. All the mechanisms set up by the government to ensure probity in the answering of RTI applications seem to be failing. This is happening despite the setting up of multiple information commissions set up in the centre and states, or perhaps because of it. This is not in the interest of the people of India as, in the absence of transparency, the government can – and does - go ahead with taking false decisions.

The people of India have the right to know what is going on in the country.  It is a fact that many in the union cabinet of this government are involved in corruption scams or have been indicted for them. This government does have much to cover up. It is not surprising that it likes to appoint pliable people to these offices to ensure a cover up.

The government has also begun to invoke archaic and outdated laws to shut down on the giving of correct information to the people of India, and some seekers of information have faced harassment. This is not in the interest of truth and justice. Even the prime minister of India has had to face queries from the people to which no correct or complete information has been given.  

This is not the way how the government is supposed to be run and it is simply not its purpose to conceal information.  

However, the the suggestion of the judges that retired judges be appointed to head the information commissions at the centre and state levels maybe open to question. But their statement, in general, that, for the Right to Information Act to be given some meaning, those appointed to the information commission must be independent in letter and spirit, is the right perspective.
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