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RTI should not be allowed to turn destructive: SC
R Sedhuraman
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, August 12
The Supreme Court has clarified that the Right to Information (RTI) Act 2005 “should not be allowed to be misused or abused to become a tool to obstruct the national development and integration and destroy peace, tranquility and harmony among its citizens.”

“Nor should it be converted into a tool of oppression or intimidation of honest officials striving to do their duty. The nation does not want a scenario where 75 per cent of the employees of the public authorities spend 75 per cent of their time in collecting and furnishing information to applicants instead of discharging their regular duties,” a Bench comprising Justices RV Raveendran and AK Patnaik ruled.

Further, the threat of penalties against officials failing to meet the RTI deadline and the resultant pressure on them “should not lead to employees of any public authority prioritising ‘information furnishing’ at the cost of their normal duties,” the SC clarified. The SC pointed out that indiscriminate and impractical demands or directions under the RTI Act for disclosure of “all and sundry” information unrelated to transparency and accountability in the functioning of the public authorities and eradication of corruption would be counter-productive. The SC made the points while upholding the right of students/candidates to have a look at their evaluated answersheets. This right was subject to the “clarifications” and the safeguards and conditions, the Bench ruled in its verdict on August 9.

The answersheets would be made available only for the period they were supposed to be preserved under the rules, be it three months or more and the RTI applicant could not seek to inspect them after this deadline, the SC clarified.

It also ruled that all information related to the evaluators and others who had dealt with the answersheets would not be provided under the RTI in order to ensure their safety. 





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