Gujarat Govt refuses to reveal Ministers' assets: Why States so hesitant to RTI queries?

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Gujarat Chief Minister
In a major blow to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi's claim of inculcating transparency in the system, the Gujarat Government has rejected a RTI application which was seeking details of the wealth of the Chief Minister and the Council of Ministers.

According to reports, Mumbai based Anil Galgali had filed a RTI query seeking information on the assets and liabilities of the CM and the Council of Ministers over the past 5 years. But, the State Government has turned down his request claiming it is not in the "larger public interest" said a report in Times of India.

Snub to PM Modi's ideal of transparency

The Narendra Modi Government ever since it came to power, it has asserted for maintaining transparency in governance. Soon after Narendra Modi took oath as Prime Minister, the website of the Prime Minister's office was re-launched.

Along with his message to the people of India, the website carried the aforesaid statement about transparency and accountability. "Prime Minister Narendra Modi firmly believes that transparency and accountability are the two cornerstones of any pro-people government. Transparency and accountability not only connect the people closer to the government but also make then equal and integral part of the decision making process."

Modi demonstrated strong commitment to transparent Government

During his stint at Gujarat Chief Minister, Modi demonstrated strong commitment to an open and transparent Government. Government rules and policies were formed among the people. Draft policies were then put online for people to give their feedback and suggestions.

Modi Government asked departments & Ministeries to furnish officials' property details

In a bid to ensure transparency, the Modi Government recently asked all departments and Ministries to put property details of officials on their respective websites. The Government also asked the Ministries to ensure that the officials file their property details including the assets of their family members and dependents.

Union Ministers' assets revealed through RTI query
The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) in 2010 had made the assets of the Central Ministers public.

Modi demonstrated strong commitment to an open and transparent Government

The information accessed by RTI activist Subhash Aggarwal came after a long legal battle, who even had to appeal with the Central Information Commission against the PMO decision refusing to disclose the ministers' assets. The details were first sought in January 2009.

Does the people not have right to know?

The move of the Gujarat Government should not be appreciated. If the wealth of Union Ministers and the judges can disclosed under RTI, why public servant of a State show reclutance in doing the same. The public who elected the politicians has every right to know what perks and facilities they are drawing out of tax payers' money? After all, an elected Government cannot claim to have right to privacy?

Not only Gujarat, many other States hesitate in declaring the wealth of Ministers. While Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan have made some of the information public, many others still show reluctance to do so.

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