Legislative Council remains silent on blunt queries
Denies vital information under RTI; SIC serves show-cause notice
Srinagar, July 24: Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Council has preferred silence on some of the blunt queries it has faced under the Right to Information Act of 2009. And exactly like the Legislative Assembly and the Chief Minister’s Secretariat, the Council has also denied information to an applicant, raising a concern among the RTI activists over the recurring denial of information by such establishments which should otherwise set an example of maintaining transparency for other government departments.
On July 15, the State Information Commission has shot a show-cause notice to the Public Information Officer of the Legislative Assembly, asking him why disciplinary proceedings shall not be initiated against him for failing to provide information to the applicant within the stipulated time of 30-days.
“You are requested to send your counter statement/reply to this Commission within seven days positively, failing which disciplinary/penal proceedings shall be initiated against you under the provisions of the RTI Act and the rules therein,” reads the show-cause notice issued vide No. SIC-K/Comp./109/2011/1032.
The PIO, Abdur Rashid Najar, who is a Deputy Secretary at the Legislative Council, is yet to respond to the missive and the Commission is all set to take the next step under rules.
The RTI application, filed by Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat, reveals that the Deputy Chairman of the Legislative Council, Arvinder Singh Micky, had faced some blunt questions on functioning and financial dealings of the Council.
The LC had been asked to divulge the following questions. How much TA/DA has AS Micky has drawn so far since his taking over, including the Air Travel/Tour Programme details? How many vehicles are at the disposal of the Deputy Chairman, including registration numbers and name of drivers to be provided? How much fuel have the vehicles consumed since Micky’s taking over as Deputy Chairman/Acting Deputy Chairman, including petrol pump vouchers from where fuel was filled in the vehicles? How many PROs are working in the LC and how many posts are sanctioned by the Government—names and qualifications of the said persons may also be provided. Is there any Accounts Officer in the LC? If no, who is discharging the duties of Accounts Officer and what is his qualification? Has anybody from the LC asked Director Accounts and Treasures or Finance Department to post an Accounts Officer in the LC Secretariat, if yes, copy of the order be provided? Have the promotions from time to time in the Gazetted Cadre been regularized by the Competent Authority like the Law and Parliamentary Affairs Department. If yes provide the copies of orders and if no, when you are intending to forward the cases of regularization of officers? What is the amount of discretionary grants received during the tenure of Arvinder Singh Micky and the list of beneficiaries be provided along with names and addresses? Qualification details/Certificates of all gazetted officers, SOs, Head Assistants may be provided along with date of birth and matriculation roll numbers? How many laptops, computers and mobile phones have been purchased and to whom they have been allotted? And furnish the details of furniture under the possession of Deputy Chairman at office and his residences in Jammu and Srinagar.
Earlier this month, the J&K Legislative Assembly denied information under the J&K RTI Act of 2009 to an applicant without citing any valid reason. “Kindly refer to your application dated 20-05-2011. I am directed to inform you that your request has been turned down by the Hon’ble Speaker,” wrote
B A Wani, Public Information Officer of the LA Secretariat in a letter to the applicant, Meraj-ud-Din Sheikh of Khansahib, Budgam.
The letter No: LA/5187/RTI/2009 dated 01-06-2011 hasn’t mentioned grounds of denying information. Sheikh had sought information about the alleged encroachment of 350 kanals of land by Member Parliament Chowdhary Lal Singh in Kathua district of Jammu—an issue which rocked the Budget session after the Member Legislative Assembly, Jagdish Sapolia, raised it.
Just few days back a Below Poverty Line man Bashir Ahmad Malik of Drang village in Budgam has filed a complaint before the State Information Commission (SIC) on denial of information by the Chief Minister’s Office, where he had filed the RTI application on 7 June 2011. Malik had sought details of travel undertaken through the state chopper for the last two years (from 2009 till date) and the amount spent on such travel, along with the expenditure on salary of pilots and fuel. He has also sought to know the amount spent by the Hospitality and Protocol Department on various functions since 2009 to 2011 and also the details of persons who have stayed at Circuit House in Jammu and Kashmir. Malik has desired to inspect the guest register of the Department.
“It is unfortunate that institution like Legislative Assembly and LC, which have passed this important legislation, are denying information sought under it. This will send a very bad signal to other departments,” said Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat, convener of the J&K RTI Movement. “It is important for the J&K Government to take a note of the issue and ensure that the Act is implemented in letter and spirit. Otherwise it naturally raises a question mark on the function of such institutions. And this would certainly spoil the government’s image which is often making assurances on implementing the RTI Act effectively for transparency.”
Lastupdate on : Sat, 23 Jul 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 23 Jul 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 24 Jul 2011 00:00:00 IST
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