CIC-Govt rift widens over RTI rules amendment
Sufi Aghast On Being Linked To 'Controversial' Move
Srinagar, Sep 7: Aghast on being linked with the change in Right to Information Rules, the Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) G R Sufi has asked state Government to make public the contents of the two communiqués in which he had recommended some minor amendments in the Rules.
The move comes after the state Government defended the review of RTI Rules in the face of widespread criticism by saying that SIC had also suggested some amendments in the Rules guiding the implementation of RTI Act 2009.
Authoritative sources told Greater Kashmir that CIC has shot a letter to Commissioner Secretary, General Administration Department (GAD), Sheikh Mushtaq Ahmad, asking him that the contents of his two letters to Chief Minister and GAD should be put in public domain so that people know the truth about repeal of RTI Rules 2010.
“The communiqué has been sent to state Government three days ago after the Government partially put the onus on CIC and SIC over replacement of RTI Rules. Our sole motive is to clear the position of SIC vis-a-vis framing of new RTI Rules,” an SIC official told Greater Kashmir.
“So far there has been no response to our communiqué and divulging the contents would be an embarrassment for Government as the amendments proposed by the Commission in the two letters don’t match with newly framed Rules,” the official said.
Jammu and Kashmir Government Tuesday said State Chief Information Commissioner, vide his DO No. PS/CIC/13/11 dated 12.05.2011 addressed to the Chief Minister indicated glaring disparity between the fee structure and copying charges under the state RTI Rules, 2010, and the Central RTI Rules.
The Government handout further said that vide communication No. SIC/Co/Adm/18/2012/502 dated 17.04.2012 the State Information Commission proposed modifications in Rule 2(I), Rule 2(3), Rule 2(m), Rule(3), Rule 7, Rule 9, Rule 10 and Rule 36(3) of the J&K RTI Rules, 2010.
According to the official, connecting CIC and SIC with the amendments was a deliberate move on the part of GAD to make the Commission a scapegoat in the wake of widespread public resentment over the replacement of RTI Rules, with Congress too joining the bandwagon of opponents.
“There seems deliberate attempt to tarnish the image of the Commission in the eyes of public by not explaining what amendments the Commission recommended,” the official said.
Insiders in the Commission told Greater Kashmir that Government did not pay any heed to their request of reducing the fee and copying charges as they had proposed the same 15 months ago.
“The fee structure was changed only after judicial intervention as Government had assured the High Court that fee would be reduced,” they said.
DISCREPANCIES BETWEEN CENTRAL AND NEW STATE RTI RULES:
Legal experts have contested the claim of Jammu and Kashmir Government that they have brought the State RTI Rules at par with Central RTI Rules.
“The Government claim is not based on facts as there are still many glaring disparities between the two,” says lawyer and president of People Against Corruption, Irfan Hafiz Lone.
According to Irfan, for instance Rule 7 of Central RTI Rules says that the Centre shall appoint an officer not below the rank of Additional Secretary to the Government of India as Secretary to the Commission, but the newly framed state Rules don’t talk about the Secretary.
“There was provision in previous Rules that the Government, in consultation with the Chief Information Commissioner, shall appoint an officer, not below the rank of Special Secretary to Government, as Secretary to the Commission, but in the absence of Rules on the subject, Government can depute any lower officer as Secretary to the Commission,” he said.
According to him, as per the Central RTI Rule no. 5, there is exemption of fee to any person who is below poverty line, but there is no such provision in newly framed state Rules.
Lastupdate on : Fri, 7 Sep 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 7 Sep 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 8 Sep 2012 00:00:00 IST
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