Jammu, June 14: Nudged by the Central Information Commission (CIC), J&K government has ordered all Central Public Information Officers (CPIOs) of various departments, their subordinate or field offices, Corporations, Boards and PSUs to submit quarterly returns by or before June 30, 2023.
They have been directed to register themselves and submit quarterly returns on the designated portal https://cic.gov.in/, under Section 25 of the Right to Information Act, 2005.
Direction has been issued after taking serious view of non-submission of annual returns i.e., four quarterly returns, by public authorities in the Union Territory (UT) for yearly performance-assessment and finalization of the Annual Report by the CIC on the implementation of the RTI Act.
Issuing instructions for strict compliance, the government has also warned that the “lapses”, if any, will be the personal responsibility of the CPIOs concerned.
Strict direction has come after the government has been intimated by the Central Information Commission (CIC) that public authorities in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir “are not submitting annual returns under Section 25 of the RTI Act.” “The matter has been viewed with serious concern by the authorities,” stated General Administration Department Commissioner Secretary Sanjeev Verma, while issuing a circular.
Under the ambit of Section 25 of the RTI Act, the CIC prepares an Annual Report on the implementation of the RTI Act and makes necessary recommendations to public authorities regarding steps for bringing their practices in conformity with the provisions and spirit of the Right to Information Act.
All public authorities are required to submit four quarterly returns for yearly performance-assessment and finalization of the Annual Report. Public authorities, which fail to submit returns, even for a single quarter, are treated as defaulters.
“Information is the currency of democracy and the Right to Information Act, 2005, in addition to fostering citizen-empowerment and eradicating corruption, envisages a robust mechanism for monitoring of all public authorities by the Central Information Commission,” Verma pointed out.
Section 25 of the Right to Information Act, 2005, inter-alia provides that each ministry or department will, in relation to the public authorities within their jurisdiction, collect and provide such information to the Central Information Commission or State Information Commission, as the case may be, as is required to prepare the report under this section and comply with the requirements concerning the furnishing of that information and keeping of records for the purposes of this section.