Monday, June 04, 2018

In 3 yrs, only 3 RTI workshops held for PIOs, govt tells HC

Greater Kashmir: Srinagar: Monday, June 04, 2018.
Despite the government claims of strict adherence to Right to Information Act in the state, it has conducted only three RTI training workshop for public information officers (PIOs) in last three years in Jammu and Kashmir, general administration department (GAD) has submitted in a written affidavit to the High Court in response to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL).
The PIL filed by Jammu and Kashmir RTI Movement through its founder Raja Muzaffar Bhat before the J&K High Court had prayed for strict implementation of section 4 and section 23 of J&K RTI Act 2009 under which the government is under legal obligation to make suo moto disclosure of information and training of officers and hold RTI awareness programmes for people living in far-flung areas of the state.  
“The response filed by the government before High Court is too confusing. We had sought judicial intervention through a PIL on ensuring voluntary disclosure of information  by the government and awareness programmes to be conducted for public and the government officers under section 23 of J&K RTI Act 2009,” Bhat said, adding, “In response the government has been tightlipped and only through IMPA details of workshops have been obtained.”
All the DCs who were issued notice by GAD twice have failed to respond, he said.
“We will agitate this issue before the High Court in the next date of hearing,” he said, adding, more than 70 RTI workshops were held in between 2011 and 2014 alone in J&K to train the officers.
“But now it seems the government does not want to carry RTI mission forward,” Bhat said. “This is so strange. For disadvantaged communities not even a single workshop has been conducted and this is open violation of section 23 of State RTI law.”
Details provided by J&K Institute of Management Public Administration and Rural Development (IMPA & RD) to GAD vide letter No: IMPA/Adm/R-66/18/4847 Dated 17.4.2018 says that during 2015 to 2017 five RTI training workshops were conducted in state, out of which not even a single workshop was held in Srinagar. During these workshops several PIOs and First Appellate Authorities (FAAs) were trained claims IMPAs letter. 
“More than seven to eight circulars and notices have been issued by the  State Information Commission (SIC) from 2011 to 2018 on ensuring pro-active disclosure of information under section 4 (1) (b) of J&K RTI Act and implementation of section 23 (training and awareness on RTI), but the government has failed to respect these notices, this forced J&K RTI Movement  to file a PIL before High Court,” said an TRI activist Mushtaq Khan.