Daily Excelsior: Jammu: Monday, April 17, 2017.
Shocking it may sound but it is a fact that around 70 Government Departments and Public Authorities including State Accountability Commission (SAC) and State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) have been violating provisions of Jammu and Kashmir Right to Information Act, 2009 relating to suo-moto disclosure of information pertaining to them. Moreover, several departments have yet not come up with their official websites despite the fact that the same are imperative for uploading information.
Section 4 of the J&K Right to Information Act, 2009 lays down various obligations of the Public Authority for suo-moto disclosure of information pertaining to it particularly the functions and duties, the powers and duties of its officers, the procedure followed in the decision making process including channels of supervision and accountability, the norms set-forth by it for discharge of functions, rules/regulations, instructions and manuals being followed by it for discharging its functions etc.
“However, there is no strict compliance to Section 4 of the Act by all the Public Authorities and Government Departments despite the fact that ever since the constitution of State Information Commission directions were issued from time to time for suo-moto disclosure of information”, official sources said, adding even the new Chief Information Commissioner Khurshid Ahmed Ganai last month made recommendation to all Public Authorities in the State to take necessary steps so as to conform to all the provisions of Section 4.
According to the sources, a large number of Public Authorities have not made suo-moto disclosure of information and have also not taken required steps for the same purpose. Although the State Information Commission has given time-frame till June 30, 2017 for compliance to Section 4 of the Act, majority of the defaulting departments and Public Authorities have yet not come forward to voluntary disclose information, which otherwise should have received prompt attention for the sake of transparency.
As per the official information, around 70 Government Departments and Public Authorities have not shown compliance to Section 4 of the RTI Act till date. Astonishingly, State Accountability Commis-sion is also defaulting while as State High Court has posted incomplete information on its website. What to talk of making suo-moto disclosure of information the State Human Rights Commission doesn’t have its own website.
What to talk of other departments, even the offices of Divisional Commissioners and that of several Deputy Commissioners have not strictly adhered to Section 4 of the Act and their websites are lacking requisite details. Even the websites of Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council are deficient in information.
The Government Medical Colleges and Drug and Flood Control Organization are also among 70 Public Authorities and Government Departments, which have failed to ensure compliance to Section 4 of the Act despite the fact that hoisting all the information by them would be of immense help for the general public.
There are large number of departments whose websites are lacking full information as well as icon for Section 4 of J&K Right to Information Act, sources said, adding “several public dealing departments are even lacking their websites what to speak of making suo-moto disclosure of information pertaining to them”.
“The status of non-compliance is notwithstanding the fact that even General Administ-ration Department has issued numerous circulars about compliance to Section 4 of RTI Act a number of times”, sources said, adding “every time the State Information Commission expresses concern over non-compliance to Section 4 by the Government Departments and Public Authorities the GAD simply issues circular instead of passing strict directions to the Administrative Secretaries for pulling up their subordinate officers for adopting non-serious attitude”.