RTI Act should not be diluted: Meira

A day after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh suggested that the citizens right to know should be "circumscribed" to prevent invasion of privacy, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar on Saturday said the purpose and intent of RTI should not be diluted at any cost.

She said the RTI Act has revolutionised the concept of accountability by allowing the common man to question the functioning of the government in the true essence of democracy.

Delivering the valedictory address at the Seventh Annual Convention of the Central Information Commission here, she said the RTI Act has facilitated the citizens' involvement in public affairs by making information available in an easy, time-bound and economical manner.

She said that while Information Commissions have wide-ranging powers to impose penalties for failure to comply with this Act, it becomes incumbent upon them to strike a balance between public good and private interests. "RTI Act must not be confined to the affluent and resourceful but must uphold the interests of the deprived and the impoverished," she said.

Minister of State Personnel and Public Grievances V Narayanasamy, who also delivered a speech, said the "UPA government is committed to implement the RTI Act in its present form" and assured that the government shall not weaken or dilute it.

At a panel discussion earlier on "Right to Privacy Vs Disclosure", MP Shashi Tharoor, senior advocate K T S Tulsi, former CIC AN Tiwari, Editor-in-Chief of The Indian Express Shekhar Gupta and RTI activist Venkatesh Naik expressed their views.

Tharoor said there is need to respect privacy and strike a balance while seeking information under the RTI. While K T S Tulsi insisted on transparency in judiciary, Shekhar Gupta said there is least expertise among Indian journalists about RTI. He said corporate houses are using it on a large scale for many reasons.

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