Legislative Assembly denies info under RTI
SIC To Decide Case As Speaker Turns Down Request
Srinagar, July 6: Normally one does not expect an institution like the Legislative Assembly, which has passed the Right to Information Act, to deny information sought under the legislation. But in Jammu and Kashmir, this has just happened.
The J&K Legislative Assembly has 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,” writes BA 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.
In the application, duly substantiated with Rs 50 fee through Non-Judicial Stamp Paper, Sheikh had asked what action did the Speaker of the Assembly initiate on this issue raised by Sapolia. He had also sought copies of the documents produced by Sapolia before the House, like Shajra-e-Khas and copies, if any, of the reply of the Minister for Revenue to Sapolia’s questions. The applicant had also sought information on how many questions were raised in the Assembly by different MLAs with regard to corruption issues in the past two years and what action has been initiated on each such issue till date. He had also asked the action that the Speaker has initiated against several MLAs of the Bhartiya Janata Party who were involved in cross voting during the recently MLC elections.
COMPLAINT BEFORE SIC
With the Legislative Assembly Secretariat refusing to divulge the information, the applicant has now filed a complaint before the State Information Commission. The SIC, according to sources, is likely to list the case for hearing. “I request you to take cognizance of my complaint and seek explanation from the PIO,” Sheikh mentions in the complaint.
RTI ACTIVISTS ANGRY
RTI activists have expressed concern over the denial of information by the Assembly. “It is unfortunate that an institution like Legislative Assembly, which has passed this important legislation, has denied 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. “The PIO has not mentioned the reasons as to why he is denying the information. Nobody can direct a PIO to deny information. A PIO happens to be an authority in himself. Now that the applicant has filed a complaint before the SIC, let’s see how the Commission responds,” he said.
Lastupdate on : Wed, 6 Jul 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 6 Jul 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 7 Jul 2011 00:00:00 IST
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