Correspondence over comments & consent: MIB’s pursuit of permission for releasing comments on the Broadcasting Bill

We wrote to the MIB asking them to proactively make the responses received on the Broadcasting Bill public. MIB also wrote to us and other participants of the consultation process seeking permission to share their comments with RTI applicants requesting it.

06 March, 2024
2 min read

tl;dr

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (“MIB”) had received requests under the Right to Information (“RTI”) Act, 2005 to share the responses or copies of the responses it received on the  Broadcasting Services (Regulation) Bill, 2023 (“Broadcasting Bill”). Following this, MIB wrote to several individuals and organisations seeking their permission to share their consultation response with the applicant requesting it. As one of the participants and invested stakeholders, we wrote to the MIB giving our consent and asking them to make these responses public proactively. 

Chronology of correspondence

  • On November 10, 2023, MIB published the draft Broadcasting Bill on its website and invited comments on it from the public.  
  • On December 07, 2023, we shared our comments on the Broadcasting Bill.
  • On February 23, 2024, we wrote to MIB requesting publication of all the comments received on the Broadcasting Bill on the Ministry’s website, with individual respondents' personally identifiable information (“PII”) redacted.
  • On February 23, 2024, we also filed an RTI application (Reference no.: MOIAB/R/E/24/00111) with the MIB requesting details about and copies of the consultation responses received for the Broadcasting Bill.
  • On March 01, 2024, the office of MIB wrote to us, and some of the other stakeholders who participated in the consultation process as well, informing us that the Ministry was being requested to share our comments or its copies on the Broadcasting Bill under the RTI Act, 2005. On this request, they asked us to share our consent within 10 days of receiving the email. (We presume that MIB is in the process of writing to each stakeholder who participated).
  • On March 01, 2024, we provided our consent to the Ministry. 
  • On March 04, 2024, we wrote to them once again, reiterating the importance of making all consultation responses public. We emphasised on the need to sensitively handle the personal details of individuals who participated in the consultation process and suggested redacting their names, email IDs, numbers, and other PIIs before making the documents public. 

Redact and reveal

Consultations are important for democratic decision-making, and the publication of responses is a step towards increasing transparency standards in the consultation process. Allowing stakeholders access to the responses as well as an opportunity to engage with them through counter-comments will foster a meaningful debate and dialogue on the subject in question. Publication of responses will increase organisational accountability and also allow for better analysis, understanding, and fair critique of the various perspectives put forward. Thus, we urge MIB to proactively release comments received during any consultation while also redacting the PIIs of individual stakeholders. While the Ministry needs to do so to ensure that privacy is protected, they must endeavour to retain the names of organisations along with their comments, so that the public is aware of an organisation’s policy positions on matters that affect them. 

Important documents

  1. Draft Broadcasting Services (Regulation) Bill, 2023 (link)
  2. Our consultation response on the Broadcasting Bill (link)
  3. Letter to MIB seeking publication of comments (link)
  4. RTI application seeking copies of consultation responses (link)
  5. Letter to MIB providing consent for sharing our comments (link)
  6. Letter to MIB regarding their email seeking consent (link)

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