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The Right to Information

Open Letter to the Prime Minister of India

Dr. Manmohan Singh

 

Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh
South Block, Raisina Hill,
New Delhi, India -110 011.


Honorable Mr. Prime Minister,

The passage of the Right to Information Act in 2005 was a source of pride for all people in the Indian diaspora. All of us who hope to see India emerge as a model democracy fully understand the fundamental nature of its people's right to information. We congratulated the government on passing an act that was far reaching in its impact and will greatly benefit India's democracy.

The recently tabled amendments, however, are a cause of serious concern. Specifically, the modifications to section 2 clause “i” (refer to NCPRI Press Note, PDF) and section 8 clause Y (refer to NCPRI Press Note, PDF) significantly erode those provisions of the Act that made it superior to any other such act in the world. The amendments open the door to ambiguity and secrecy - the very reasons why the Act came into being. Governments have to maintain a balancing act in information dissemination. Yet, when the public interest is clear the decision to withhold information in the form of file notings and details of cabinet meetings on non-exempted issues is hard to defend and understand. The argument that including the phrase file-notings in the law constitutes an expansion of its scope is ignorant at best and disingenuous at worst. We urge the government to seriously reconsider these amendments.

We acknowledge the government’s intentions behind the amendments proposed under section 18, where electronic record maintenance will be made a priority. We hope the process of doing so is carried with the level of transparency mandated by the Act itself.

India took a giant leap in its evolution as a pluralistic democracy when it empowered its citizens with a visionary right to information. To take it back would constitute a betrayal of the most fundamental principles on which our democracy is based on. We stand in solidarity with all those who oppose the amendments that weaken this Act. We have full faith in your wisdom to reconsider and reject such amendments.

Thank you.

Peace.

Young India, Inc.
Germantown, MD
USA

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