Tuesday, February 14, 2017

State takes steps for better RTI Act implementation

Times of India: Nagpur: Tuesday, February 14, 2017.
The BJP-Shiv Sena government in the state has directed various departments and agencies to effectively implement RTI Act in the state. On February 1, Maharashtra general administrative department (GAD) issued a circular directing all departments to implement recommendations made by State Information Commission (SIC) during the last 10 years.
The circular specifies 15 new measures that would will help in effective implementation of RTI Act. One of them is conducting a test for the employees on provisions of RTI Act. After media criticism about delay in getting information under the RTI Act, the Union Centre appointed all 10 central information commissioners. In the state, too, all eight posts of commissioners have been filled.
"This is a new precendent. Since enactment of RTI Act in 2005, Central Information Commission (CIC) never witnessed full strength. In January this year, state government too appointed all posts of information commissioners," says RTI activist Avinash Prabhune.
According to Prabhune, SIC publishes annual report regarding implementation of RTI Act in the state and it has given about 60 recommendations between 2006 and 2013. It appears earlier governments had mostly ignored them. Now the state government has directed the officials for proper and timely disposal of RTI appeals by giving full details of first appellate authority and timely transfer of RTI application to authorities' holding information.
The departments have also been asked to nominate senior officers having experience as first appellate authority and there should be proper reasoning while claiming exemption from providing information or rejecting RTI application.
The circulat says there should be proactive disclosure of information as per Section 4 of RTI Act. Free of cost information up to 50 pages should be provided to BPL category applicant. It will help in avoiding misuse of RTI under the garb of BPL category. Earlier, no money was to be charged from BPL applicants.
The officials have also been asked to take up computerization and indexing of records at government offices for fast dissemination of information.