That, President Ram Nath Kovind was to sign the Right to Information (RTI) Amendment 2019 Bill sent to him for assent manifested in the police action on Thursday, when people, who had gone to the Rashtrapati Bhavan, to petition the President to ask him to withhold his assent, were detained. So, not surprisingly, President Kovind, who despite being part of the committee, which recommended it is of utmost importance to have autonomy for the post of information commissions, gave in to the anti-people amendments that was recently passed by both the houses of Parliaments.
A press release issued by National Campaign for People's Right to Information (NCPRI) says, “As people were reaching the Rashtrapati Bhawan, the police turned up in large numbers and detained all those who were present and took them in buses to Mandir Marg Police Station. None of the people who had gathered there were allowed to submit their petitions at the Rashtrapati Bhawan secretariat.
The police detained 66 people and many others were not allowed to reach the Rashtrapati Bhawan and were turned away. Later the police allowed only three people to enter and deliver some of the petitions. Subsequently, the others were allowed to leave.
We term the detention and police preventing people from giving their petitions to the President as a serious attack on free speech and democracy.”
“It is indeed a Black Day for our democracy as the RTI Act which was implemented in 2005 after several years of peoples’ movement, has been stymied. Now, the only hope is to file petitions in different High Courts and Supreme Court, which activists, across the country, will decide by the weekend.”
In the meanwhile, NCPRI co-convenors Anjali Bhardwaj, Nikhil Dey and former Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah who addressed a press conference to launch the `Use RTI to Save RTI campaign’ are urging people across the country to file RTI applications in large numbers.
They state, “under the `Use RTI to Save RTI’ campaign on the 1st of every month RTI applications will be filed across the country in conjunction with social movements and peoples’ groups to seek information on key issues of public interest. On the 1st of August, nearly 100 questions through RTI applications have been filed seeking information on issues ranging from social security, defence procurement including Rafael aircrafts, land acquisitions, ration, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), Unnao rape case, functioning of the Lokpal, functioning of hospitals, deployment of teachers and many more.’’
The ‘Use RTI to Save RTI’ campaign was launched in multiple states on Friday – Odisha, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Kerala. It will be taken up in other states in the coming days. RTI applications will be filed on the 1st of every month and a portal where all the RTI applications and replies will be uploaded is being developed on righttoinformation.info where details of the campaign are also available, says Ms Bharadwaj. For any further queries, you may contact 9650346518, 9810273984, 9818838588.