“ …In my opinion, [the RTI amendment under the data protection law] is a major setback for the RTI. If it's allowed to continue like this for the next 3-5 years, it may not have immediate impact.. but over a period of time, this will become a law which is completely useless. Now, what can we do and what should we do? In my opinion, first is media. I wish we can shake up media. Media, citizens together must discuss this, have discussions all over the country, make it a live issue. [...] We can get this to be changed. 75 years back, we were able to convince the foreign government to leave India. This is our own government. Surely, we can make it [the government] change [the amendment],” said Shailesh Gandhi, former Central Information Commissioner, in an interview with MediaNama. He discussed the implications of the recent Right to Information (RTI) Act amendment mentioned in the Digital Personal Data Protection Act, 2023. What is the amendment? Introduced along with the data protection law, the amendment seeks to replace an exemption clause of the RTI Act that related to personal information. While the original clause restricted the abuse of this exemption, the abovementioned amendment appears to have given Public Information Officers (PIOs) “a right to deny information.” In this interview, Gandhi discusses the implications of this right to deny for PIOs, along with the deletion of a proviso clause immediately after the exemption clause, the road ahead for RTI applicants…
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