Jammu and Kashmir Bank on Monday informed the High Court that it is not a Public Authority under provisions of the Right to Information Act and therefore "not obliged" to nominate its Public Information Officer.
In its reply to a Public Interest Litigation seeking full implementation of the Right to Information Act in J&K, the bank authorities have stated: "J&K Bank is not at all financed by the State Government, as such it is not obliged under the Act to nominate the Public Information Officer."
The bank's reply further states that the issue as to whether J&K Bank is a Public Authority or not is already pending before the Supreme Court.
Hearing the petition, a division bench of Justice Muhammad Yaqoob Mir and Justice Ali Muhammad Magrey, however, directed the other respondents (concerned authorities) to file objections to the petition by November 23.
On April 1 this year, the High Court had issued notice to the state government through Chief Secretary, State Information Commission through its Secretary, Registrar General of the High Court and Chairman Jammu and Kashmir Bank seeking their response within three weeks.
In the petition, Advocate Firdous Ahmad Parray through Advocate Muhammad Ashraf Wani seeks implementation of Section 4 of the RTI Act, pleading it is "soul of the legislation."
The petitioner submits that under section 4 of the Act, it is obligatory upon every department to disclose information voluntarily within 120 days from the enforcement of the Act.
He pleads that the information shall be furnished by every government department, semi-government organization, and public sector bank with more than 50% government share, board or a corporation.
The petitioner further submits that there is no need to submit a written application or pay application fees if the section 4 of the Act is implemented in letter and spirit, adding despite many representations and communications made by the State Information Commission (SIC), this section has not been implemented.