This year we have once again focused on bringing some transparency in the functioning of the Union Cabinet, albeit post facto. Readers will remember that I had circulated agenda items placed before the Union Cabinet between 2009-2012. They are also available on our website at: http://www.humanrightsinitiative.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=648&Itemid=567
After a lull in 2013 due to my long drawn illness, I have returned to this issue especially after some readers suggested that I continue with this intervention. The agenda items placed before the Union Cabinet at its meetings between January-February 2014 is attached.
While the Public Information Officer always supplied the information in the past, albeit late, this time he permitted only inspection and taking of notes from the Cabinet Meeting Minutes Register (2nd attachment). So I filed a first appeal and argued that the alternate form permitted would lead to more diversion of resources of the Cabinet Secretariat (3rd attachment). The First Appellate Authority (FAA) agreed with this reasoning and directed supply of photocopies.
However the FAA refused to direct proactive disclosure of this information after every meting giving a strange reasoning (3rd attachment). I think this matter will have to be taken up before the Central Information Commission for a decision. It is strange that the Government of India preferred the Bofors 155mm Howitzers guns from Sweden to protect India's borders but does not want to emulate the Swedish practice of making a gist of all Cabinet decisions the same day after the meeting is held. Only a trickle of press releases comes through the Press Information Bureau if and when the Government decides to make public some of the Cabinet's decisions. I hope there is more transparency in Cabinet-related matters under the new Government which will be sworn in.