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Five new Central Information Commissioners appointed


RTI-Activist

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Transparency has been a consistent area of focus for this blog and to this end, we’ve certainly tried to make much use of the RTI mechanism. As Shamnad has previously noted, “From 2007 when we first shot off a protest petition (signed by many of you) to the Prime Ministers’ Office asking that patent data be available for public access, up until our RTI investigations into the authorship of the controversial section 3(d), we’ve come a long way. However, much more needs to be done to resuscitate IP data and unlock it from the deep dark dungeons of opacity. The benefits of transparency are myriad and I reflect on some of them here.

Thus we were very pleased to see that five new Information Commissioners were administered the oath of office to the Central Informational Commission (CIC). The five new information commissioners are Shri Yashovardhan Azad, Shri Sharat Sabharwal, Smt Manjula Prasher, Shri M A Khan Yusufi and Shri Madabhushanam Sridhar Acharyulu. This brings the total number of commissioners up to 10. The role of this commission is essentially to ensure the proper functioning of the Right to Information machinery by inquiring into complaints made by any person who has had trouble with their RTI requests. The list of their functions is available here.

I was also pleased to hear that the appointment of Shri M A Khan Yusufi and Shri Madabhushanam Sridhar Acharyulu represent the first ever inductees from the area of Law to the CIC. Professor Acharyulu, whom I also had the good fortune of studying ‘Media law’ under at NALSAR, had the following to say when I spoke to him about his new appointment:

“One survey showed that only 0.3 per cent of population of India used the RTI, which comes to 0.5% of electorate. Though the RTI is changing the game rules and creating a fear among the decision makers about possible questions in future, a lot has to be done  to empower the citizens with the knowledge of RTI through which they should enlighten and brighten the democracy. It’s a tool that has potential to keep democracy a democracy.”

This looks to be a very positive step by the CIC and over at SpicyIP, we certainly look forward to reaping the benefits of a more smoothly functioning RTI system.

[Relevant Press Release available here]

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Swaraj Paul Barooah

Swaraj Paul Barooah

Follow @swarajpb Swaraj has a deep interest in IP, Innovation and Information policy, especially when they involve issues relating to Access to Knowledge, Innovation incentive mechanisms, Digital Freedoms, Open Access, Education, Health and Development. After his BA, LLB (hons) from Nalsar Univ of Law, Hyderabad, he went on to do his LLM from UC Berkeley in 2010. He is now pursuing his J.S.D. degree from UC Berkeley where he is focusing on Drug Innovation Policy and Access to Medicines. Aside from SpicyIP, he is also engaged as a consultant on various IP matters, and is a visiting faculty member at Nalsar Univ of Law. He is also in the process of starting up a New Delhi based "IP, Innovation & Information Policy" focused think-tank.

One comment.

  1. AvatarArun Kumar Gumber

    Dear Swaraj,

    In answer to a line written by you “Though the RTI is changing the game rules and creating a fear among the decision makers about possible questions in future, a lot has to be done to empower the citizens with the knowledge of RTI through which they should enlighten and brighten the democracy. It’s a tool that has potential to keep democracy a democracy.”

    I’ve file many RTI’s but some of them come up with the good solution. The main problem is that Govt. officials either unable to understand the matter written by the RTI applicant or they don’t want to answer the questions in clear sense.

    Those officials also answer in such a manner that it becomes difficult to come at conclusion as the nature of the answer is so rounded or circular.

    Another problem that I read various times in various newspapers “RTI applicant murdered.”
    If such kind of things’ll happen then how you can imagine the dream of real democracy.

    And a financially normal person is not able to make correspondence with the Govt. officials again and again, if the answer is not satisfactory. (due to expenditure of posts and demand drafts)

    Regards
    Arun Kumar Gumber

    Reply

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