Two Day 10th Annual Convention of the Central Information Commission concludes today

Two Day 10th Annual Convention of the Central Information Commission concludes today

Two Day 10th Annual Convention of the Central Information Commission concludes today

The Two Day 10th Annual Convention of the Central Information Commission concluded here today. The convention was inaugurated by the Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi yesterday. 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 Union Minister of Finance, Corporate Affairs and Information and Broadcasting, Shri Arun Jaitley and 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, Dr. Jitendra Singh were also present at the inauguration of the convention.

During the Concluding Session, Shri Vijay Sharma, Chief Information Commissioner said that the agenda of the convention had been finalized in consultation with the State Chief Information Commissioners which was discussed in a meeting with the State CICs held on 28th August, 2015 in New Delhi. The aim of the convention was to ensure that the annual convention is relevant both to the Centre and the states. He said that the RTI should be strengthened taking into account the emerging information demands of a modernized India and the technologies now available due to the momentum generated by the ‘Digital India’ initiative.

The convention provided a platform for discussions in drawing a road map for the future achieving the aims and objectives of the Act towards greater transparency and accountability in the working of the public authorities for the benefits of the public and the country. The deliberations and discussions took place on significant topics such as 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, the RTI Act seeks a “practical regime” and Making RTI better: experience from the states etc.

The points of view of the various states emerged during the convention demonstrated the wide usage of the RTI Act by the citizens and their faith in the RTI instrument for the redressal of the grievances for the upgradation of the delivery of public service and control of corruption. The representatives of the states said that it will help to bring in more consistency if there was uniformity in the rules. Some of the states felt that the issue of increasing burden of frivolous RTIs need to be addressed. Many states including the North East states stated that training is required for the staff in the public authorities who have to handle the RTI applications. The infrastructure support to bridge the digital divide is required to achieve the aim of transparency through technology, the State CICs agreed.

The discussion on the privacy in RTI times involved much discussion having a bearing on account of the lack of clarity of the legal standing of the right to privacy. The speakers agreed that it is a contemporary subject that ought to be discussed in the RTI times. Infact the RTI Act has brought law of privacy into focus. The panelists said that a balance is needed between the public domain and the privacy issue while implementing the RTI Act. There is a paradigm shift from the application driven RTI to the full and open information, the speakers observed.

Eminent panelists including Justice A. P Shah, Former Chairman, Law Commission of India , Shri A. N. Tiwari, 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. The State CICs from the states of Chhattisgarh, Assam, Kerala, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh were also present in the convention.

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