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Railways Tightens RTI Norms

By Amigos IAS

Why is it in the news?

  • Indian Railways has implemented stricter norms for handling RTI (Right to Information)
  • The move follows Central Railway’s disclosure of the cost of installing selfie points in response to an RTI application.

 More about the news

  • The new norms mandate that the general manager (GM) of the zone or the divisional railway manager (DRM) must approve all RTI responses for clearance. This includes responses to first appeals under the RTI Act.
  • Contrary to the RTI Act’s usual provisions, which do not assign the GM or DRM as appellate or competent authorities, these officials are now involved in approving responses and appeals.
  • The changes aim to address concerns about the declining quality of responses to RTI applications handled by Zonal Railways and other field units.
  • On September 27th, Indian Railways directed all 19 zonal railways and general managers to install selfie booths promptly at various stations.
  • Selfie booths feature durable 3D fibre sculptures, acrylic boards, glass, and integrated lighting.
  • They showcase central government initiatives such as Skill India, Ujjwala Yojana, Chandrayaan Mission, and others.
  • The controversy sparked when the Central Railways, in response to an RTI application, revealed that a permanent selfie booth featuring PM Narendra Modi costs Rs. 6.25 lakh; Temporary booths cost Rs. 1.25 lakh each, leading to political controversy.
  • The disclosure of costs related to selfie points led to political discussions and debates, prompting a response from the Railways through the tightening of RTI norms.
  • Hence, the tightened norms are introduced to enhance transparency and accountability in responding to RTI requests, particularly in light of controversial revelations.

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