Lok Sabha panel recommends amendment in RTI

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New Delhi, Apr 30 (UNI) A parliamentary panel has recommended amendment in the Right to Information Act, 2005 for dealing with requests for information or documents which come under the jurisdiction of Lok Sabha.

The Lok Sabha panel, in its 14th report submitted to the Speaker on Monday and laid on the table of the House today, said an applicant seeking information or documents must state the reasons for which they were required. But it said if the Speaker thought that the information or document sought by an applicant could question the proceedings of the House or any of its committees in any court, he be empowered to refer such a request to the Committee of Privileges and agreed to by the House.

But at the same time, the panel, headed by Mr V Kishore Chandra S Deo, said decision taken by the House or Speaker shall not be open to review the Chief Information Commissioner under RTI.

In other set of recommendations, the Previleges Committee has laid down elaborate procedure for seeking documents relating to proceedings of the House or any of its committee by a court or an investigating agency like the police and CBI. The court or parties before it shall specify documents required, its purpose and date by which these were required. And the applicant should also specify if certified or photocopies of the documents were needed or an officer of Lok Sabha produce it before the court.

The panel said that about requests made when the House was not in session, the Speaker could allow production of relevant documents in court to prevent delays and inform the House when it meets. But if information or document sought involved any question of privilege of the House, its committees, a member or a witness, the Speaker could decline such a request even when the House was not in session and instead refer it to the Privileges Committee. But when the House was in session, the request must be referred to the panel.

It said when a member or officer of the House was required to depose in a court, the Speaker will refer the matter to Privileges Committee irrespective of the fact whether the House was in session or not.

The Speaker could permit police or CBI to take photocopies or photographs of required documents without parting with originals, the panel said.

But if an investigating agency sought original document or wanted to record evidence of any member or officer of the house involving privilege of the House, its member or a witness, the Speaker would refer the matter to the Previleges Committee, the panel added.

On documents not relating to the House proceedings, the Committee said copies of such documents in the custody of Lok Sabha's secretary-general could be made available with the permission of the Speaker.

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