I sought an appointment with the Hon’ble Minister for the Ministry of Information and Communication in the morning today. He was kind enough to accomodate me around his lunch time. I would like to thank the Hon’ble Minister for always being so accomodating. I had gone to see the Hon’ble Minister on the status of the Right to Information Bill (RTI).
Sometime last year (please forgive my lack of specificity on the date) a workshop was organized where participants from different agencies, including the media, were invited to discuss the draft RTI with an expert from India who had worked on the RTI in India. With hind sight, one realizes the discussions had been mostly about information sharing protocal (on the day that I had joined the workshop), albeit the absence of a RTI draft on the table for the participants. Perhaps, since I had joined only mid way through the workshop, I might have been mistakenh to believed it was really about RTI with a need for a framework or gist of the draft RTI. But I did hear the work RTI mentioned several times during the workshop but no one really had a copy. Nonetheless, it has been a while and with the 5th session of the Parliament drawing closer and dates for submission of draft Bills to the Parliament, it’s timely to wonder what the Parliament may table this time.
The RTI, I hear has been in the draft for a while now. Although enshrined in the Constitution, without actually enacting a legislation, it would be difficult to bring the relevant provision into effect. The editorial of Kuensel today mentioned that there were more questions than answers and questions need answering. This is just one of the many questions the Public may have today. The provision in the Constitution needs to be invoked by legislating the RTI statute.
According to the Information and Communication Minister the cabinet had not arrived at any definite decision as to when the draft Bill would be sent to the Parliament but it does appear that the government will be tabling it sometime in a year or so. The cabinet receives matters and prioritizes them and RTI does not appear to be in the priority folder at the moment, although it remains a matter of persepctive if it does deserve priority.
The good news is that the draft has been distributed to the cabinet members for scrutiny and will be discussing and would eventually be sent to the Parliament but the bad news is, there is no timeline or any dates yet.