New Delhi [India]: In October, 2006, on completion of one year of the RTI law, the Central Information Commission (CIC) and government organised the first ever RTI Convention with clear objective to take stock of the evolution of the RTI Act, 2005 during previous one year and to chart ‘Way Ahead’.
It involved sharing experience among the stakeholders, consisting of both sides i.e. information providers (Officials from the Centre and state governments) and information seekers of the civil society, using transparency law. A balance of numbers of participant was ensured among the stakeholders to achieve realistic outcome.
Thereafter, it had becomes a yearly affair. (2014 was exception, when the convention could not take place as the post of the Chief Information Commissioner, was lying vacant.)
2015 CIC Convention held for taking stock of 10 Years of Transparency Law will be more remembered for the controversies it generated by inviting only about 10 RTI practitioners of Civil Society from across the nation among 2000 invitees, thus creating imbalance among the stakeholders.
It was reported that 7 of the civil society members had boycotted the inaugural session in solidarity with others who were not invited. The rest of invitees were believed to be government officials from center and states, including State Information Commissioners (SICs).
From the point of view of civil society, in the absence of representatives from different regions of the nation, the convention was a failure as it did not meet the objectives of the annual convention. At the most the convention could be treated as conduct of training/awareness under Section 26 for the government officials.
The analyses of expenditure reveal 100 percent increase in the expenditure from the past. CIC instead of maintaining austerity involving tax payers’ money, in keeping with the spirit of the RTI Act.
CIC had incurred Rs.28.6 lakhs of taxpayer’s money of which 13.5 lakhs has been spent on hospitality items mainly for the government officials who attended the Convention on duty and would have been entitled for TA/DA. (ANI)