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Monday, 17 October 2011

Salman Khurshid refuses to comment on rift within Team Anna

New Delhi, Oct 17 : Union Law and Justice Minister Salman Khurshid on Monday refused to comment on the rift within Team Anna, and said the government does not interfere with the choices of the civil society activists.

“Whether they have a rift I don’t know, but it’s for them to do their own house keeping. We don’t interfere with their choice, they communicate with us; they communicate as any public figures would communicate,” Khurshid told media persons here when asked about the rift within Team Anna and that Prashant Bhushan’s comments on Kashmir has not gone well with veteran social activist Anna Hazare.

“We are happy to hear what they have to say, but the decisions as I repeatedly said are to be taken by Parliament and will be taken by Parliament. I don’t want to either encourage any following out amongst them, nor providing a greater bonding or cementing. It is really for them to decide,” he added.

Khurshid further said that Kashmir is a part of the idea of India, and added that there can be no compromise on it.

“On Kashmir, I think we are very clear and it is not the government along but the people of India are very clear. I have mentioned clearly as well that Kashmir is a part of the idea of India and there can be no compromise with the idea of India,” he said.

Bhushan, who is in the eye of the storm for his advocacy of plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir, was beaten up by some youths suspected to be from Sriram Sena in his Supreme Court lawyers’ chambers on Wednesday.

The senior Supreme Court lawyer, however, later made it clear that these were his views and did not reflect the views of Team Anna.

When asked whether the government is contemplating changes in the Right to Information (RTI), Khurshid said: “I have said yesterday that I know of no such proposal, but I certainly think as the Prime Minister has said we must discuss it, we must at least look at the experience of RTI, we shouldn’t just shut ourselves from all experiences of RTI or for matter any legislation that is essentially very beneficial.”

“We are very proud of, we are committed to, but if there are some hiccups anywhere, should we not examine them or talk about them, should we not debate them and then see what needs to be done,” he added.

The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, had on Friday called for a relook at the law to address issues of motivated demands for information and those that could affect policy-making processes.

Addressing the 6th Annual Convention of Information Commissioners in New Delhi, Dr. Singh said: “We must take a critical look at it. There are concerns that need to be discussed and addressed honestly. I had mentioned last time the need to strike a balance between the need for disclosure of information and the limited time and resources available with the public authorities.”

“A situation in which a public authority is flooded with requests for information having no bearing on public interest is something not desirable. We must, therefore, pool all our wisdom, our knowledge, and our experience to come to a conclusion on how to deal with vexatious demands for information, without at the same time hindering the flow of information to those whose demands genuinely serve public interest,” he added.

The Prime Minister’s remarks on the RTI Act has drawn sharp criticism from the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), who have stated that they would protest in the Parliament, if the government tries to dilute the act.


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