Saturday, June 09, 2018

Diluting spirit of RTI : Editorial

The North lines: Editorial: Saturday, June 09, 2018.
All it seems that State Information Commission has turned into a toothless tiger with government departments rarely adhering any of its directives for implementation of RTI Act 2009.
It has been nine years since implementation of RTI Act 2009 in Jammu and Kashmir. However, the State Information Commission has expressed unhappiness over lack of implementation of RTI Act 2009 in Jammu and Kashmir on several occasions.
Most of government departments in Jammu and Kashmir are in clear defiance of an important section of the J&K Right to Information Act 2009 by either not developing their websites or not keeping the information available on the existing one.
As per section 4 of the RTI Act, every public authority is supposed to digitalise all its records that are fit to be computerised and keep the same available on network which is accessible.
The General Administration Department has also pointed out that “some of the departments are not implementing the provisions of Section 4 of the Right to Information Act and some of them have yet not created their departmental websites”.
As per it, the departments are not updating their websites even though from time to time, instructions have been issued, impressing upon all the Administrative Secretaries, Heads of the Departments and Public Authorities of the State to ensure effective implementation of the same.
The Administrative Secretaries have been also asked to share the status related to the departmental websites with the General Administration Department and the State Information Commission within a week.
Similarly, the heads of departments were reminded several times that deficiencies, weaknesses in implementation of the Act “deserve priority attention”. The SIC has instructed the departments that they were not following the rules in implementation of the RTI Act 2009 in the state.
The SIC has found that public information officers are “not providing” information to the RTI applicants within the stipulated period of 30 days prescribed under section 7 (1) or some time did not bother to respond even after the stipulated time.
It is observed that most of the department PIOs are insensitive towards the sanctity of the RTI Act and avoids providing relevant information on one pretext or the other and force the applicant to go for appeal thus diluting the very spirit of this RTI Act serving great Public Interest.