'Let paramilitary forces reply to RTI queries'

'Let paramilitary forces reply to RTI queries'

Activists and government representatives met here to discuss ways to make the dissemination process under the Right To Information (RTI) Act more accountable and demanded that intelligence agencies and the paramilitary forces respond to queries under the law. 

A two-day national conference ‘National Security and People’s Right to Information in India — The Lady Godiva Syndrome’ organised by the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative and Indian Institute of Public Administration opened here on Sunday.

“We are developing a set of principles that can guide decision-making on information requests relating to national security," Venkatesh Nayak, programme coordinator of CHRI said. “We want intelligence and para-military forces not to refuse to answer RTIs, especially those pertaining to corruption and human rights, by claiming that the information will be a threat to national security,” he added.

Nayak said a statutory body should keep watch on departments who refuse to answer queries not related to national security, and the reasons given by them must be justified.

The participants shared case studies where defence and intelligence agencies refused to answer RTIs by unnecessarily relating them to national security. 

The conference took stock of the decisions of information commissions and courts regarding information access disputes relating to national security.

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