No improvement in situation

11/05/2019

The Sub-Section 1 of Section 22 of the J&K Right to Information Act states: “The State Information Commission shall, as soon as practicable after the end of each year, prepare a report on the implementation of the provisions of the Act during that year and forward a copy thereof to the Government”. Similarly, Sub-Section 2 of Section 22 states: “Each department shall, in relation to the Public Authorities within its jurisdiction, collect and provide such information to the State Information Commission as required to prepare the report and comply with the requirements concerning the furnishing of information and keeping of records”. Sending a clear and loud message that they are not comfortable with the transparency law, almost all the Government departments are showing reluctance to furnish annual information about implementation of Jammu and Kashmir Right to Information Act. Most shockingly, they are even not responding to the repeated communiqués of the State Information Commission. Keeping these provisions of the J&K Right to Information Act in mind, the Secretary in the State Information Commission vide Communication No.SIC/ CO/Adm/M&R/2018-19/494 dated March 18, 2019 requested the Commissioner/ Secretary to Govern-ment, General Administration Department to advise all the Administrative Secretaries to submit the information to the Commission as mandated under Section 22 of the RTI Act before April 10, 2019 positively.
Even proforma for submission of information by the Administrative Departments to the Commission was forwarded to the Commissioner/Secretary, General Administration Department whereby information vis-a-vis number of RTI applications received and disposed of by the Administrative Department/ Heads of the Departments during the year 2018-19; number of RTI applications rejected pursuant to different sections of the RTI Act; number of First Appeals received and disposed of by the First Appellate Authority under Section 16(1) of the Act and amount of application free/additional free collected under the Act. However, till date there is no compliance from majority of the Government departments and the departments are supposed to furnish such information voluntarily at the end of every year but it is a matter of serious concern that they are not responding even after receiving official communication of the Information Commission through General Administration Depart-ment. This is not for the first time that departments are showing reluctance in furnishing mandatory information to the Information Commission and this situation is prevailing ever since the enactment of J&K RTI Act and by not paying heed to the requests of the Information Commission those at the helm of affairs in the Government departments have sent a loud and clear message that they are not comfortable with the transparency law.

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