Asking authorities to make pro-active disclosures about their functioning as mandated under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, Governor NN Vohra Saturday said the public has right to know what their rulers are doing.
"In a democracy even without a law, the people have right to know what the rulers are doing. They have right to know what they (rulers) are up to in terms of systems, policy, procedures and expenditures," Vohra said during his inaugural address at Regional Conference on RTI here.
He said the law has significantly contributed in reducing dishonesty in the public functioning.
"Besides all constitutional and legal arguments in favour of RTI Act, I feel that this legal arrangement is contributing in reducing dishonesty," he said.
The Governor said several Apex Court judgments have given a constitutional pedestal to RTI Act.
"The system we inherited was rooted in secrecy and we need to replace it with openness and transparency."
"We inherited the British procedural systems when we became free. We have made modifications and improvements in patches but not undone the system. This system, we inherited, was colonial and imperialistic. The system was rooted in secrecy and non-public approach."
"We will see reduction in RTI applications if every institution uploads information other than that protected by the law on their website regularly rather than waiting for the questions being asked," Vohra said.
"We need to keep clear and understandable records in all government departments to ensure transparency and accountability," he maintained.
The Governor said that he had the opportunity of closely observing the evolution of the acceptance of this law in J&K.
"I compliment (G.R.) Sufi, Chief Information Commissioner J&K, for stabilizing the functioning of the State Information Commission despite the difficulties faced in the initial period," he said.
On the occasion, former Central Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) Wajahat Habibullah trained guns on State bureaucracy for weakening the RTI Rules.
"My friends in bureaucracy came up with specious argument that they have changed the Rules to bring them at par with central Rules. But, the central Rules are highly defective."
He said people should use the law for obtaining information from armed forces. "The forces including Army are not exempted from the law," he said.
He said the Official Secrets Act should have been replaced with RTI Act but "our rulers are hesitant to do so."
CIC GR Sufi said Governor N N Vohra has played a vital role in implementation of the transparency law.
"Whenever I faced a problem (vis-à-vis RTI law), I looked at Raj Bhavan. The Governor did not disappoint me," he said.