New Delhi, Aug. 19: The Centre has decided not to press ahead with the amendments to the Right to Information Act under pressure from activists, Left parties as well as sections within the Congress.
Highly-placed Congress sources said not only will the proposed amendments not be legislated in this Parliament session, they would, in all likelihood, be dropped altogether.
The amendments would have denied the public access to file notings by bureaucrats except those that relate to social and development issues, while students would have lost the opportunity to ensure that their answer scripts in public examinations had been evaluated properly.
Minister of state for parliamentary affairs Suresh Pachauri said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh decided that the amendment bill will not be introduced in this session, which ends on August 25.
He added that Singh and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi received several representations that voiced fears about the changes and decided that the matter should be first discussed with all the stakeholders.
A Congress leader said Sonia felt that “adequate thought” should have been given to all aspects of the act. Bringing in amendments after it was operational — and “successfully so” — could be counterproductive.
The sources said the government’s decision came despite the wishes of some senior Congress ministers who felt the changes were necessary. They added that social activist Anna Hazare’s indefinite fast had embarrassed both the Centre and the government in Maharashtra, where the Congress is in power.
Hazare, who began his fast in Pune on August 9, ended the hunger-strike once the government announced it would drop the move for the amendments.
Earlier, in June, Magsaysay award winner Aruna Roy had quit the National Advisory Council in protest against the amendments.