Govt departments fail to comply with RTI Act

At a time when government is stressing on transparency, majority of government departments in Jammu and Kashmir are brazenly flouting the obligatory norm of proactively disclosing information as per the J&K Right to Information Act 2009.
Govt departments fail to comply with RTI Act
Representational Pic

At a time when government is stressing on transparency, majority of government departments in Jammu and Kashmir are brazenly flouting the obligatory norm of proactively disclosing information as per the J&K Right to Information Act 2009.  

Sources informed Greater Kashmir that the J&K government has failed to crack whip on its departments for failing to update information on their websites. 

"The government departments in our state are yet to develop work culture of updating official records on their websites, despite the state government pumping huge money in e-governance projects," said an official, adding that in today's era, official websites of government departments are lacking updated information which is against the policy of disclosure.

As per the official, the government departments such as Public Service Commission, Service Selection Board, Directorate of School Education, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution, Geology and Mining, Handloom, Horticulture, Transport, Tourism, JKPCC, JKPDC, J&K Board of School Education, Directorate of Health Services, Directorate of Rural Development and DG Accounts & Treasuries, Information Technology and others have failed to proactively disclose information under the RTI Act.       

The J&K RTI Act clearly mentions under Section 4 (1) (b) that the public authorities are "under obligation to make proactive disclosures of information which includes details about works undertaken, funds allocated, details of employees and others. However, there is no implementation of the Act as most of the government departments have failed to make proactive disclosure of information.

The callousness of the government departments in disclosing information has irked RTI activists, who accuse the government babus of deliberating hiding information.

"The Act was passed on March 20, 2009. It was obligatory for public authorities to make proactive information disclosure within 120 days from the enactment of the Act. It means the authorities were under obligation to make proactive information available by ending July 2009," said Raja Muzafar, an RTI activist. 

"But till date not a single department in J&K has fully adhered to this guideline. We filed RTI in GAD last year to know the status of section 4(1) (b) implementation in various Government departments and it was shocking to know that Public Information Officers (PIOs) and concerned HODs of various departments are not at all familiar with this important section of state RTI Act," he added. 

"Departments like J&K Public Service Commission, Service Selection Board, Directorate of School Education, Geology and Mining, Handloom, Horticulture, Transport, Tourism and Culture and Information Technology have written unsatisfactory replies to our RTI applications for pro-active disclosures. PIOs of these departments gave vague and irrelevant replies. One department was ignorant enough to admit that they don't understand what proactive disclosure means," he said.               

The failure by authorities to disclose the information proactively is also resulting in multiplicity of RTI applications wherein applicants seek information which otherwise must have been available in public domain.

Raouf Ahmad Khan, Public Information Officer (PIO) Public Service Commission, said that that all necessary information is available on official website. "We are in process to update all left out information and it will be updated shortly."

ZA Banday, PIO DSEK, said that he has directed officials to ensure availability of information on website. "We ensure no information is left out. However, if there is any, we will update that shortly," he said.

CAPD department website has even no information or contact number of its PIO.

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