Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) made wide-ranging consultations in the year 2017 on drafting updated RTI rules which were last notified on July 31, 2012. But new rules have not still been notified. DoPT should take urgent steps to notify new updated RTI rules. However, there must be perfect co-ordination between DoPT and Central Information Commission (CIC) to ensure that CIC in its observations and rulings may not differ with DoPT-drafted RTI rules.
It may be recalled that DoPT admitted file notings under RTI Act only subsequent to an RTI application seeking information on action taken against DoPT officers who failed to challenge CIC-verdicts on file notings at the appropriate courts. Earlier public-authorities were always confused because DoPT website clearly mentioned that file notings were not under RTI Act at that time.
Several Central Information Commissioners do not accept RTI rule number (3) fixing a word-limit of 500 in an RTI application to prevent extra-long RTI applications. CIC should be transparent by clearly mentioning on its website where it differs DoPT in respect of RTI rules. Best is to repeal section 27 and 28 of RTI Act giving undue power to States and Competent Authorities to draft their own RTI rules, making some having abnormally excessive high RTI fees of Rs 500. Uniform DoPT drafted RTI rules should be applicable compulsorily for all governments and competent authorities.
Subhash Chandra Agrawal
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)