Activists demand public audit for all govt expenditure

Shillong, March 13 (AGENCIES): All government expenditure must be subject to a public audit and armed forces should not be exempt from scrutiny under the Right to Information (RTI) act, a resolution adopted at the third National Right to Information Convention said here Saturday.
The first convention on Right to Information Act (RTI) through a three-day programme concluded at the state’s Central Library Auditorium here on Saturday with rights activists calling for greater vigil on the issue.  The convention passed an 11 point ‘Shillong Declaration’ that called for the setting up of an anti-corruption body like the Lokpal which can ensure that corrupt officials exposed through RTI queries are punished.
The public audit is one of the most crucial resolutions, RTI activist Aruna Roy said.  ‘It is important, we are here to fight corruption... If the government can have social auditing in the case of NREGA (National Rural Employment Guarantee Act), then why not for all other programmes,’ Roy said.
Another demand was the scrutiny of intelligence and security forces.  ‘Exemptions given under Section 24 (of RTI ACT) to security and intelligence agencies are irrational and contrary to national interest, and they need to be removed - not by amendment of the Act but by withdrawing the list of notified agencies,’ the convention resolved.
The convention asked for the government to ensure the safety of RTI activists and users. The ‘Shillong Declaration’ also resolved to ask the central government to set up a national RTI Council to monitor the implementation of the act.  Apart from activists, the three-day convention was also attended by prominent figures in bureaucracy, judiciary and media.
Former CJI JS Verma, former chief election commissioner JM Lyngdoh and activist Aruna Roy attended the convention, the theme of which was Reclaiming Democracy’.