Implementation of Right to Information Act in limbo

Chief Minister’s Secretariat, Raj Bhavan Among Defaulters On Voluntary Disclosures


Srinagar, Apr 14: Putting a question mark on the claims of State Government about effective implementation of Right to Information Act in Jammu and Kashmir, the State Information Commission (SIC) has disclosed that majority of the government departments and offices, including Chief Minister’s Secretariat and Raj Bhavan are yet to implement the legislation in letter and spirit.
This revelation has been made by SIC in its statement on status of compliance of section 4(1) and (B) of Jammu and Kashmir Right to Information Act- 2009 by public authorities.
According to the compliance report, Raj Bhavan has failed to make mandatory pro-active disclosures under the Act.
As per section 4(1) of RTI Act, all the public authorities have to disclose their particulars, functions, duties, powers, the procedure followed in the decision making process, monthly remuneration of employees, allocation of budget and other details. The section 4 (B) of the law says that public authorities should voluntary disclose the information through different means of communication including internet at regular intervals.
The status report reveals that Chief Minister’s Secretariat has neither made pro-active disclosure nor displayed the particulars of its Public Information Officer (PIO) and First Appellate Authority (FAA), despite nominating the officers.
Although there is no direct reference to failure of CM secretariat in implementing RTI Act, but the blanks shown against details of voluntary disclosure and displaying of particulars of PIO and FAA implies that.
The performance of almost all administrative departments vis-à-vis suo-motto disclosure is abysmal. As per the statement, only few departments have made disclosures which were to be made after 120 days of enactment of RTI Act in the state.
The defaulters include Administrative Reforms, Inspections, Trainings & Grievances Department, Agriculture Production Department, Civil Aviation, Cooperatives, School Education Secretariat, Technical Education Secretariat, Election Department, Food & Supplies Department, Health and Medical Education Department, Home Department, Hospitality & Protocol Department, Higher Education Department, Information and Technology Department, Labour and Employment Department, Ladakh Affairs, Planning and Development Department, Power Development Department , Public Works Department and others.
But General Administration Department, Housing and Urban Development Department, Industries &Commerce Department, Law Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Department have put information in public domain through their websites. Interestingly, the subordinate departments of Rural Development, Social Welfare, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution Department and Public Works Department are also lagging behind implementation of RTI Act.
For instance, Economic Reconstruction Agency, J&K Projects Construction Corporation, Chief Engineer Roads and Buildings Kashmir, Chief Engineer Roads and Buildings Jammu, Chief Engineer Mughal Road, Chief Engineer Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana and Directorate of Design falling under jurisdiction of PWD have not made voluntary disclosures.
Majority of the field departments including the offices of 22 Deputy Commissioners have failed to make suo-motto disclosures.
The performance of varsities of the state vis-à-vis voluntary disclosure is poor as SKUAST Jammu, SKUAST Kashmir, University of Kashmir, Baba Ghulam Shah Badshah University, Mata Vaishnodevi University and Islamic University of Science and Technology fall in category of defaulters.
While more than two and half years have passed after enactment of the Act, a number of institutions and departments like Transport Commissioner, Islamic University, Ladakh Affairs, are yet to appoint PIO and FAA, the status report reveals.
Talking to Greater Kashmir over phone, Principal Secretary to Governor, Navin Choudary, who is also the FAA, said that they will display information about their employees, functioning etc, by next week.
“We are on the job. There were some technical issues and we have sorted out them,” Choudary said.
But, he said, Governor’s office has little information to disclose as it is not a line department.
PIO of Chief Minister’s Secretariat, Ram Sevak, refused to comment on the matter, saying he is not the proper person to talk on the matter.
“It is better for you to talk with PIO of General Administration Department,” he said.
Repeated attempts by this reporter to get version of PIO and Secretary GAD proved futile as they did not pick up phone despite repeated attempts.

Lastupdate on : Sat, 14 Apr 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 14 Apr 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 15 Apr 2012 00:00:00 IST

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