The Centre has suggested that proceedings in RTI query ahould automatically stop if the applicant dies while the appeal continues to be pending before the Central Information Commission, a report by ‘The Indian Express’ ha said. In the Draft RTI Rules 2017, the Clause 2 of Rule 12 titled Withdrawal/Abatement of Appeal says: “The proceedings pending before the Commission shall abate on the death of the appellant.”
RTI activists have termed the clause “dangerous for appellants”, with several incidences of RTI applicants being murdered over questions seeking to expose corruption.
“There have been past pronouncements by the CIC and other bodies that in case of death of an appellant, the information would be displayed on the website. This new clause effectively puts an end to that. So killing an RTI activist would be a sure way of killing his fight for a particular query,” RTI activist Subhash Agrawal was quoted as having said by the paper.
Commodore Lokesh Batra, another RTI activist also said these issues were earlier been discussed at length between the Centre and civil society activists. As per analysis by an NGO CHRI last year, the death toll of RTI activists in the country because of murder or other suspicious incidents was 56 between 2005, when the transparency law came into effect, and middle of 2016. Of the 56 deaths, there had been 51 murders and and five suicides. Also, there were 130 cases of of attack or of RTI activists since the law came in.
You may also like to watch this video
Clause 1 of Rule 12 says that an applicant may withdraw a plea after giving it in writing to the commission. However, there cannot be any withdrawal of plea after the matter is heard finally or an order or decision been pronounced.
As per activists, this clause was not necessary as it should be left to an applicant to decide if the person wants to pursue a case at the time of proceedings.