In a move, which could be an infringement on the citizens’ right to information, the Telangana government on Wednesday shut down one of its websites without citing any reason.
The website [http://goir.telangana.gov.in/] used to publish all government orders (GOs) except confidential ones to ensure transparency and good governance. However, the government led by the Telangana Rashtra Samithi is apparently of the opinion that making all GOs accessible to the public gives them the scope to file cases against the government on its various decisions.
The issue was discussed in the cabinet meeting during which Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao reportedly questioned the need for putting GOs in public domain. He is supposed to have pointed out the cases where execution of projects were delayed after PILs were filed in courts.
The GOs extending Rs 15 lakh financial assistance to CMO official Smita Sabharwal to fight a case against the Outlook magazine and the GOs on transferring NTR Stadium land for construction of Telangana Kala Bharathi had landed the government in legal problems.
Now, the chief minister wants to conduct a study on what type of GOs should be put in public domain. Based on the report, it will be decided whether the website should be restored or not. The government is arguing that those who want know the GOs can obtain them by filing an RTI query.
However, RTI activists slammed the government decision and said it had violated Section 4 of the RTI Act, which states: “The basic premise of the RTI Act is the concept that the individual citizen is a sovereign in his own right, and is the owner of the government.”
They want proper implementation of the Section 4 that mandates the government to move more and more towards transparency so that citizens do not always have to take recourse under the RTI, using their precious time and energy.
The state government is already facing criticism for issuing nearly 500 confidential GOs during its 20-month rule.
The Andhra Pradesh’s GO website is functional as usual.