Goa to withdraw controversial RTI circular

Posted on October 16, 2013 from Goa ι Report #1

Panaji, Oct 16 (IANS) Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar Wednesday blamed bureaucratic error for a controversial government order which made it mandatory for RTI applicants to prove their Indian nationality. He said it would be withdrawn.

Parrikar's comments come a day after the Goa government Tuesday issued the circular which made it mandatory for Right to Information (RTI) applicants to furnish an affidavit swearing their Indian nationality.

"Any document like an election ID card, which can prove your nationality, can be attached if the PIO (public information officer) asks for it. The officer while listening to me only used the last paragraph about the affidavit and issued the circular yesterday (Tuesday)," Parrikar told reporters after both the Opposition as well as RTI activists called the circular "draconian" and against transparency in government functioning.

"Goa is the only state where RTI applicants have to now unnecessarily bear extra financial costs of swearing an affidavit on citizenship. This skewed move of the Goa government is contrary to the very intent and objectives of the RTI Act of ensuring that information was easily available to any citizen," said Aires Rodrigues, a prolific information activist.

The circular, according to Director of Information and Publicity Swapnil Naik, was sent to all public information officers (PIOs).

Congress legislator Vishwajeet Rane said he was "shocked" by the action of the Goa government.

"It is trying to make it difficult for common man to get information under RTI. This government came to power promising transparency and this move of making RTI difficult shows the true intention of the government," said Rane, who called it a black day for every Goan.

Parrikar, seeking to put an end to the controversy, said that a fresh circular was being issued, with which the insistence on an affidavit with every RTI application would be dropped.