November 3rd, 2011
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2G spectrum:PM denies information under RTI

RTINew Delhi: The Prime Minister ‘s Office has refused to entertain an Right to Information query submitted by Vivek Garg that has asked to disclose information related to 2G spectrum. The reason cited for decline of information is that it would lead to breach of parliamentary privilege. The PMO said since the issues relating to the allocation of second generation spectrum is being looked into by Parliamentary Committees; the information cannot be made public.

Exercising his Right to information, Garg had sought details of communications relating to 2G spectrum sale between the PMO and other concerned ministries. “It is a setback to transparency law. The PMO has wrongfully denied information. I have filed an appeal over the denial,” Garg said.

The surfacing of a 2G note of the Finance Ministry on the basis of an RTI query filed by Garg had caused crises in the government in September. The Finance Ministry note written on March 25, 2011 had said that the then Finance Minister P Chidambaram could have avoided the scam, had he insisted on auctioning of spectrum.

“Papers and records on the issue have been requisitioned by these committees. Under Section 8 (1) (C) of the Right to Information Act, such information, the disclosure in terms of Rule 275 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha evidence given before a Parliamentary Committee shall not be published until it has been laid on the Table in Parliament.”

“Therefore, papers constituting evidence given to a Parliamentary Committee whose report is yet to be tabled are exempt from the disclosure,” the Central Public Information Officer of the PMO said in reply to an RTI application filed by Garg. Section 8 (1) (c) bars “information, the disclosure of which would cause a breach of privilege of Parliament or the State Legislature”.

Both the Public Accounts Committee and Joint Parliamentary Committee are looking into several allegations of corruption and irregularities in the allocation of second generation spectrum to certain telecom companies in 2008.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh a few days back had called for a debate on the controversial Right to Information (RTI) Act. Reiterating the government’s commitment to a strong and effective RTI Act, the PM said that the government is against any dilution of the Act and that any suggestion to make it more effective is welcome. He accepted that there are certain grey areas in the act which needs to be addressed and a critical review of the RTI Act needs to be undertaken.





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