Monday, July 31, 2017

Protecting the right to information : Sheikh Maqbool

Rising Kashmir: Srinagar: Monday, July 31, 2017.
The society and our administrative system are passing through a crisis. After the implementation of free market policy in 1991 the policy of globalization, privatization and liberalization we are suffering not only from the economic crisis but the entire value system has degraded. Everything has become commodity.
Not only the service sector but the human emotions have been also converted in to the commodity and fall in the trap of market. What all the countries of the world are facing is a common problem that is corruption. Corruption has been proved the biggest problem towards the common toiling people of the world.
By 2010, more than 85 countries have national-level RTI laws or regulations in force including the major developing countries like China and India.
Of all these, Mexico has taken the lead with one of the best examples of a well-functioning in the world. The law passed in 2002 represents a vital element of Mexico’s democratic transition, and became a model worldwide.
A well competent governmental body (Instituto Federal de Acceso a la Información) is entrusted with the responsibility of implementation and overseeing the law. Handling over 200,000 requests in its first five years have resulted in Mexico setting a new international standard for transparency legislation.
In Jammu and Kashmir, RTI Act was introduced in 2009 and since then this law has proved to be a strong weapon in the hands of people, for ensuring transparency in government’s departments and containing corruption.  A group of villagers in Budgam, mostly poor wage workers use RTI to protect their lives, livelihood and ecology in Tosa Maidan.
Right to Information (RTI) is an Act of the Parliament of India. RTI has provided right to information for citizens and replaces the erstwhile Freedom of information Act, 2002. Under the provisions of the Act, any citizen of India may request information from a "public authority" (a body of Government or "instrumentality of State") which is required to reply expeditiously or within thirty days.
The Act also requires every public authority to computerise their records for wide dissemination and to proactively certain categories of information so that the citizens need minimum recourse to request for information formally.
On July 18th State Chief Information Commissioner Kursheed Ahmad Ganaie held 5th roundtable with district administration Budgam and RTI activists. The honorable seems to have put new life in the whole process thereby warning PIOS/FAAS for the implementation of the act on regular basis while stressing on suo motu disclosure. Also, CIC recently directed CE PDD Jammu to create RTI cells and send officials for trainings. Apart from imposing penalties or recommending disciplinary action the Jammu and Kashmir Information Commission has broad powers of inquiry.
So, we can say that the law has been come for the transparency in the administration and to control the rampant corruptions in all the fields. The Act in the state of Jammu Kashmir has a significant role as the place is passing through a political crisis.
Killings and firing and atrocities by the army have become the common phenomena in the Jammu Kashmir. The activists have poured their blood and sweat to bring the law under implementation. But the thing is that now the law is used not only for people’s purpose but for revenge and personal purposes too in some cases.
The law of RTI in the state of J&K is comparatively stronger than many states. And of course credit goes to the activists of the state who have nor cared for any danger to their life and worked hard for the cause of society.
The historic movement of Save Tosa Maidan was the unique example of people’s glorious movement by using this Right to Information Act. But painful thing is that where the unity is most required thing, the Act comes in the hands of petty interest.
For such steps, what will happen ultimately? Even the Supreme Court has said that while the Right to Information (RTI) is a formidable tool to fight corruption in governance, it "should not be allowed to be misused or abused" to obstruct national development because of such revengeful act by RTI activist in personal level, thing will allow the government to shrink the law under the pretext of misuse of it.
The government authority whether it is a state or centre, for them the RTI act has become not only headache but also proved a strong weapon in the hands of common people against corruption.
So, the authority will be happy by such heinous move of RTI activists. Rather the government is waiting to snatch out such opportunity. Ultimately, the common people will suffer who are already suffering. So, let us unite against any kind of misuse of such boon like Act and save it from silly interest from so called activists.