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Kalam writes to PM on right to information

Friday 24 June 2005

New Delhi, June 25 (PTI): Even as he gave assent to the law on right to information, President A P J Abdul Kalam has put on record that confidentiality of communication between the Head of State and the Head of Government should be maintained and the new law should have no purview over it.

In a communication to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the President has emphasised that notings by bureaucrats on files should also be privileged as otherwise it could affect the decision-making process.

Well-placed sources said Kalam’s letter was sent last week to the Prime Minister along with his assent to the Right to Information Bill, which was passed by both Houses of Parliament during the budget session.

Even though the Bill has become a statute, the government while framing the rules under it should keep in mind the suggestions given by him, the President is believed to have said.

Leakage of communication between the then President K R Narayanan and Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on the Nanawati Commission of Inquiry probing post-Godhra carnage in Gujarat is said to be one of the reasons that prompted the incumbent President to issue a word of caution to the Government on protecting Presidential communications to the Prime Minister.

The President has also highlighted the need for the Prime Minister to ensure Presidential immunity and stipulate that documents emanating from the President’s secretariat were not not brought within the ambit of the Act.

Under the Act, both the Centre and the states could come up with rules on how to ensure accountability of Government department. But the President is believed to be of the view that since it is a Central legislation, the rules should be made also by the Centre.

The sources said that it was now upto the Law Ministry to act on the suggestions before issuing the notification.

The Act, which seeks to usher in a new era in the process of governance, performance and accountability, entitles every citizen to have access to information controlled by public authorities.

Under it, every public authority has the obligation to provide information and maintain records about its operations.

It seeks to promote openness, transparency and accountability in administration.

Among other things, the law lays down the architecture for accessing information, which is simple, time-bound and inexpensive.

It imposes stringent penalties for failure to provide information or affecting its flow.

See online : the Hindu

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