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  • Many refusals of information did not comply with the law but instead used a generic statement that the information was personal and therefore would not be provided.

  • This practice is illegal but has been frequently used to conceal arbitrary, corrupt, or illegal actions by government officials.

  • Examples of such refusals include the Department of Personnel and Training denying information about the pending Annual Performance Appraisal reports (APAR) of IAS officers based on exemption under Section 8(1)(j).

  • Requests for details about Member of the Legislative Assembly funds were also denied under the claim of it being personal information.

  • Information about beneficiaries of the Prime Minister's fund, fake caste certificates, education certificates, ghost employees, corruption in job selections, non-compliance with rules and laws, disproportionate assets compared to declared income, verification of elected representatives' affidavits, unfair assessment of students and job seekers in government, and disregarding proven corruption charges against officials were all subject to refusals.

  • Denial of access to file notings and minutes of meetings has also been observed.

Current Issue

  • The proposed Data Protection Bill intends to amend Section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act, which pertains to personal information.

  • If this amendment is passed, it would allow the denial of any information related to a person.

  • This broad interpretation would enable Public Information Officers (PIO) to use the exemption to deny most information requests.

  • The proposed amendment indirectly acknowledges that the current practice of denying information solely on the grounds of it being "personal information" is illegal.

  • PIOs would be able to link requested information to a person and deny it based on the proposed amendment.

  • The definition of "person" in the Bill encompasses individuals, companies, and the state, making it possible to associate most information with one of these categories.

  • Consequently, the RTI Act would essentially transform into a Right to Deny Information, undermining its effectiveness as a tool for transparency.

  • In the 18 years since the implementation of the RTI Act, no harm has been caused to national or personal interests due to the disclosure of information.

  • Therefore, the proposed amendment represents a significant setback for democracy.



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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: RTI Refusals UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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