Move to exempt file notings from RTI aborted

The union cabinet today decided to drop its move to amendments to the Right to Information Act in order to put notes made on files by officials and ministers outside its purview.

All file notings can continue to be made public except those explicitly exempted, such as the ones related to national security, privacy and protection of commercial interest, the government decided.

By all accounts, the controversial amendments were dropped at the behest of United Progressive Alliance chairperson and Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

The proposal to exempt file notings as well as details of the examination and selection process for public servants first came up in 2005, and was approved by the cabinet in 2006, but it did not get as far as the Parliament because of the stiff opposition.

Social activists had cried foul over the proposed dilution of the RTI Act, which has helped in bringing at least a modicum of accountability in government. Several members of the Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council, including Aruna Roy, also criticised the proposed amendments.

The amendments were proposed on the insistence of many government departments as well as organisations like the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).