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RTI convention demands social/public audits
Correspondent SHILLONG, MAR 12:
Published on 13 Mar. 2011 12:42 AM IST
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The 3rd National Right to Information (RTI) Convention here Saturday resolved to demand the government to bring all government expenditures subjected to social/public audits.
The three day national convention which passed an 11-point “Shillong Declaration” called for the need of an anti-corruption commission or body like the Lokpal/Lokayukt that could ensure information accessed through the Right to Information exposing corruption was acted upon and the guilty held accountable.
The social/public audit was one of the most crucial of the resolutions included following strong insistence from Right to Information activist, Aruna Roy.
Prominent figures in the field of bureaucracy, judiciary, media and social activists who attended the three-day convention supported Roy’s suggestion for the need of social/public audits in all government expenditures.
“It is important, we are here to fight corruption...If the government can have social auditing in the case of NREGA then why not for all other programmes,” Roy reasoned. Some other crucial resolutions were also passed having direct bearing on northeastern states and Jammu & Kashmir.
One of them being, that security and intelligence forces should not be exempted from scrutiny under section 24 of the Right to Information Act and exemption must be removed immediately so that these agencies would fall directly under the purview of Right to Information.
Another vital resolution was that there must be transparency in religious institutions. The use of public money for religious purpose should be transparent and they must also be brought under the purview of Right to Information on how they use “public money.”
Other resolutions include bringing political organizations, banks, Private-Public-Partnership (PPP), international financial agencies, private sectors, NGOs under the RTI. The resolution also said rules and procedures needed to be defined to ensure easy access of information.
The convention also resolved to demand from the government to ensure the protection of Right to Information activists and users, and they must take not just swift legal action against the culprits but also ensure that the information being accessed by the assaulted activist is urgently made public.
‘Shillong Declaration’ also resolved to ask the Centre to set up a national Right to InformationCouncil (similar to CEGC) with people from the states as members, so that problems in implementing the Right to Information Act could be monitored regularly.
Setting up of a Right to Informationcouncil to implement the Act better, circulation of draft legislations for wider consultations, transparency in the appointment of State and Central Information Commissioners, protection of RTI applicants and activists, creation of anti-corruption commission like Lokpal, Autonomous Councils under Right to Information and suo moto disclosure of government schemes and programmes were the other resolutions adopted after the day’s deliberations.

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