The Congress on Monday fired its first salvo on the Centre over the proposed changes in the Right to Information (RTI) Act, and questioned the BJP-led federal government's intentions over the move.
"By trying to alter the RTI rules what is the intention of the government? Right to Inform citizens or Right to Intimidate them?," Patel tweeted on Monday.
By trying to alter the RTI rules what is the intention of the government? Right to Inform citizens or Right to Intimidate them ?— Ahmed Patel (@ahmedpatel) April 3, 2017
The Centre has proposed a new set of rules for processing RTI applications, complaints and appeals and has sought suggestions from the public by 15 April. The draft proposal has been published on the website of Department Of Personnel And Training (DoPT), the nodal department for the implementation of RTI Act.
A major proposal now allows the Central Information Commission (CIC) to convert a complaint into second appeal which would mean it can order the disclosure of information to an applicant who has come under complaint clause of the RTI Act which was not the case earlier.
"The Commission may in its discretion allow a prayer for any amendment of a complaint during the course of its hearing, including conversion of the complaint into second appeal, if available remedies have been exhausted, on a prayer made by the complainant," the draft rules state.
The Supreme Court had held in one of its orders that Section 18 of the RTI Act provides for complaint while Section 19 of the RTI Act provides mechanism of second appeal.
It had said that the CIC while hearing a plea under complaint clause cannot order disclosure of the information which can only be provided if the person is approaching it under second appeal or section 19 of the Act.
Another provision says that the proceedings before the Commission will abate in case of death of the appellant.
The new draft rules also allow the Commission to use its discretion for allowing withdrawal of appeal or a complaint if appellant requests but such requests cannot be entertained once the matter has been decided by it.