Second Administrative Reform Commission's report on Right to Information - GovtVacancy.Net

Second Administrative Reform Commission's report on Right to Information - GovtVacancy.Net
Posted on 15-07-2022

Second Administrative Reform Commission's report on Right to Information

The main subjects assigned to the commission are as follows-


* Review the confidentiality classification of official documents, particularly with reference to the Jurisdictional Secrets Act  ;

* Promote transparency and accessibility of unclassified data; And

* Disclosure and transparency of information as a complement to the citizens' right to information.


The report is in two parts-


(1) Part I - Contains issues related to official secrecy and confidentiality. It is divided into three chapters- 


(A) Official Secrecy

(B) Rules and Procedures

(C) Privacy classification


(2) Part Two - In this, necessary measures have been taken for effective implementation of the Act. It is divided into four chapters-


(A) Rights and Liabilities

(B). Issues of implementation

(C) Enforcing the law on the judiciary

(D) Removal of difficulties.


The following are the major recommendations of the commission:


(1)  part one


( A) Official secrecy-


* Repeal the Official Secrets Act 1923 and include it as a chapter of the National Security Act.

* Ministers in public affairs take an oath of transparency at the time of assuming office.

* Armed forces to be included in the Second Schedule of the Act.

The Second Schedule of the Act should be reviewed from time to time.

Public Information Officers should be appointed in all the organizations listed in the Second Schedule.

* Appeal against the orders of the PIO should be filed with the CIC/SIC.


(B) Rules and Procedures-


It should be included in the civil service rules that every government servant,  in the performance of his duties in good faith, shall give true and complete information to the public or to any organization,  but not for unauthorized and undue advantage.



(C) Privacy classification-


* Provision should be made to include Annual Confidential Reports of officers and examination papers and allied matters in exemption under the RTI Act.

* Documents once classified as secret or secret should remain so for a period of 30 years and documents classified as restricted for a period of 40 years.

* The officers authorized to provide grading of documents should be at the following level-

Param Gupta – Not below the rank of Joint Secretary.

Secret - not below the rank of Deputy Secretary.

- Confidential - not below the rank of secretary.


Also, the state governments can authorize officers of equivalent rank to confer grading.


(2) Part two-


rights and obligations-


* Section 12 of the Act to be amended to constitute a selection committee of the CIC (with the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, and the Chief Justice of India). Similarly, Section 15 should be amended to constitute a selection committee with the Chief Minister of the State, the Leader of the Opposition, and the Chief Justice of the High Court.

* Government of India should ensure the formation of SIC in all the states within 3 months.

* The CIC should set up 4 Regional Offices each headed by a Commissioner. Similarly, regional offices of SICs should be set up in larger states.

* At least half of the members of the Information Commission should be from a non-civil service background. Such provision may be made by the Central Government in the rules under the Act which is applicable to both the CIC and the SIC.

* There should be a Nodal Assistant Public Information Officer for all Ministries/ Departments/ Agencies/ Offices having more than one PIO. Such provisions may be incorporated into the rules by the appropriate Governments.

* PIOs in Central Secretariats should be at least of the rank of Deputy Secretary. In the State Secretariat, officers of similar rank may be notified as PIOs. In all subordinate agencies and divisions, officers sufficiently senior in rank, but accessible to the public, may be designated as PIOs.

* All officers may be designated by the Government of India as Public Information Officers as well as Appellate Officers.

* Appellate authorities for every public authority can be nominated and notified either under the rules or by using section 30 of the Act.

* The information should be available for self-disclosure in the form of a printed, equivalent publication in the official language which should be amended from time to time. For this, a single portal should be arranged.

* Public Record Office should be established within 6 months by the  Government of India as an independent authority and by integrating several agencies currently engaged in record keeping by all the states.

* This Record Office will function under the overall supervision and guidance of CIC/SIC.

* The Government of India should ensure 1 percent of all flagship program funds for a period of up to five years and a maximum of 25 percent are utilized for updating records, improving infrastructure, framing codes, and setting up public records offices. To create awareness.

* The Government of India may set up a Land Records Modernization Fund to survey and update all land records.

* Complete the process of digitization in the districts by the end of 2001 and the sub-district level organizations should do this work by 2011.

* All government employees should be given RTI training for at least one day in a year

*Awareness campaigns should be assigned to a credible non-profit organization at the state level, a  multi-media campaign in the local language.

* Governments should publish guides and understandable information materials.

* A nodal officer should be designated wherever necessary by the appropriate monitoring authority at the state, regional, district, and sub-district levels.

* Every government authority, in its office as well as subordinate government authorities,  should be responsible for compliance with the provisions of the Act.

A National Coordination Committee should be constituted under the chairmanship of the Chief Information Commissioner. The committee will act as a national forum,  document and disseminate best practices in India and elsewhere, monitor the creation and functioning of the national portal, and review rules and executive orders issued by appropriate governments under the Act.


Issues in Implementation-


* To include payment through postal order by amending the rules.

* States should prepare rules regarding application fees as per central rules.

* State Governments may issue appropriate stamps of appropriate amount as a method of payment of fees.

* Post offices may be authorized to receive fees in cash and send a receipt along with the application form.

* The Department of Personnel and Training is the nodal agency at the Government of India level. He should have a complete list of public authorities working in all the Central Ministries/Departments.

* These public authorities can be classified as Constitutional Bodies,  Uniform Agencies, Statutory Bodies, Public Sector Undertakings, Bodies located under executive orders, substantially funded proprietary control bodies, and  NGOs substantially funded by the Government.

* Government authority to have details of all Government authorities immediately next level under it.

* A single window agency should be established by establishing a cell in the office of the District Collector / Deputy Commissioner or Zilla Parishad.

* The lowest level office in any organization which has decision-making power or which is the custodian of records should be recognized as a public authority.

* Any government information that has been transferred to a non-government body can be disclosed under RTI. 

* An institution shall be deemed to have received 'substantial funding from the Government if it has received at least 50% of its annual operating cost or an amount equal to or more than rupees one crore in any one of the preceding 3 years.

* The provision of providing 20-year-old records on request should be applicable only to those Government records which need to be preserved for such period.

* States may set up independent Public Grievances Redressal Authorities to deal with complaints of delay, harassment, and corruption.

* If the requests are frivolous or vexatious or there is a substantial and unnecessarily diversion of the resources of the Government body in processing the request. The Public Information Officer may, with the prior approval of the Appellate Authority, reject any request for information within 15 days from the date of receipt of the application.


Enforcing the law on the judiciary


* Legislatures should get the work of preparing catalogs and digitization of records so that citizens have access to retrieval of records.

* The proceedings to be taken by the executive branch in respect of the reports of the CAG, Commissions of Inquiry, and Committees of the House should be made available online.

* Records in District and Subordinate Courts should be stored scientifically and their administrative procedures should be computerized in a time-bound manner.

Thank You