Should the process of law making be as per the RTI Act?
The section 4 of the Right to Information (RTI) Act envisages that the government should consult the citizens before making a law / policy. The specific sections of the RTI Act which call upon every public authority to go for a public consultation are:
- Section 4 (1)(b)(vii) - Every public authority shall publish within one hundred and twenty days from the enactment of this Act, the particulars of any arrangement that exists for consultation with, or representation by, the members of the public in relation to the formulation of its policy or implementation thereof.
- Section 4 (1)(c) - Every public authority shall publish all relevant facts while formulating important policies or announcing the decisions which affect public.
In its meeting on April 26, the national advisory council (NAC) headed by Ms Sonia Gandhi has approved a draft pre-legislative process (PLP) for mandatory consultation with citizens before a law is implemented. The draft recommendation of the Working Group on Transparency, Accountability and Governance, on the ‘pre-legislative process’ was presented to the NAC by Ms Aruna Roy. These recommendations shall be placed in public domain for comments before they are finalised and communicated to the government. As per the draft:
- The scope of the pre-Legislative process in respect of central government shall extend to all the new laws / rules and any amendments to the laws / rules.
- The pre-legislative process should also adhere to the principles such as a) transparency, b) inclusiveness and c) equity.
- The pre-legislative process envisages that an executive order be issued requiring all central ministries to follow the pre-legislative process before a new law / rule is introduced in parliament or an amendment is proposed.
- The desirable modes of disclosure and consultations would be a part of the guidelines while details of such processes are likely to be worked out by the concerned central ministry/department.
It is yet not clear whether consulting people would be on the lines of inviting ‘comments’ from people, NGOs, or through having public hearings across the country.