ITANAGAR, 15 Mar: Chief Minister Pema Khandu on Tuesday nominated three members – Pasighat West MLA Ninong Ering as chairman, and Aalo East MLA Kento Jini and Raga MLA Tarin Dakpe as members – to study the scope of amending the RTI Act guidelines, and asked the committee to table its report in the next legislative assembly session.
The nomination of the three-member committee came after both the ruling and the opposition parties’ legislators sought amendment of the RTI Act to stop its misuse as a tool for blackmailing by the RTI activists, during the short duration discussion raised by Congress MLA Ninong Ering.
Defending the RTI Act, Khandu stated that there is no need to be afraid of RTI applications if the officers and the departments concerned are clean.
“I know some section of RTI seekers come with ill intention, but officers and the departments who are responsible are not good too. If your intention is clean and you do nothing wrong, let the RTI seekers file whatever information they want,” Khandu stated.
The chief minister informed the house that the RTI Act was enacted with good intention, aimed at maintaining transparency in governance. “RTI is a fundamental right enacted by the Centre with the aim to maintain transparency and accountability in governance. We have a little scope to amend it,” he said.
The CM further revealed that, since August 2006, the State Information Commission (SIC) has received 2,933 RTI cases, out of which 2,433 cases have been disposed of and 500 cases are still pending.
“Seeing the number of cases registered with the SIC, for a small state like Arunachal, it does not reflect good sign. It implies that there is something wrong with the system,” remarked Khandu.
Itanagar MLA Techi Kaso also defended the Act, stating that there is no need to develop a fear psychosis over RTI applicants.
Initiating the discussion, Ering earlier stated that the RTI Act has been grossly misused by the RTI activists “with intention to harass and blackmail the officers.”
Ering stated that RTI applicants can be largely categorised into four sections: “one who seeks RTI to expose corruption, arbitrariness and poor governance; second one files RTI repeatedly to correct the wrong; third one to blackmail people, targeting illegal building and mining activities; and the fourth one who seeks to harass and blackmail officers, expecting undue favours in return.”
He sought collective support to discourage such practices.
“You have to strengthen this Act but that does not mean that right to information is turned into right to income. At least there has to be a provision. If there is a frivolous case, if application is frivolous, there has to be a law,” said Ering, demanding rectification of the RTI Act.
Aalo East MLA Kento Jini, Changlang South MLA Phosum Khimhun, Tali MLA Jikke Tako, Nari-Koyu MLA Kento Rina, and Boleng MLA Ojing Tasing called for rectification of the RTI Act to check its misuse by blackmailers. Borduria MLA Wangling Lowangdong sought “exemption of the RTI Act from the entire state.”
Quotes of the day
- “Agar officers and department sahi kaam karne se RTI karke b kia milega? RTI mangne dijiye, kia problem hai?” Chief Minister Pema Khandu, defending the RTI Act.
- “Yadi officers sahi kaam karega toh RTI upar seh kudo ya niche she kudo, kia milega?” Itanagar MLA Techi Kaso.
- “Yaha RTI activists Scorpio, Fortuner seh ata hai. Revolver leke ata hai lekin BPL card dika ke information leh jata hai,“ Boleng MLA Ojing Tasing.
- “Yahan chut-put chut-put hote rehta hai boundary mein.” Home Minister Bamang Felix.
- “Most of the principals posted in Wangcha Rajkumar Government College Deomali do not intend to stay.” Borduria MLA Wanglin Lowangdong.