Acting on important provisions

14/01/2020

The Right to Information Act of the erstwhile State was repealed by the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act, 2019 passed by the Parliament and Central Right to Information Act, 2005 became applicable from October 31, 2019.Section 5(1) of the Central Right to Information Act mandates all public authorities/departments to designate as many officers as the Central Public Information Officers (CPIOs) in all administrative units or offices to provide information to persons requesting for the same under this Act. Similarly, Section 5(2) of the Act states: "Without prejudice to the provisions of Sub-Section (1), every public authority shall designate an officer at each sub-divisional level or other sub-district level as a Central Assistant Public Information Officer to receive the applications for information or appeals for forwarding the same forthwith to the Central Public Information Officer. Though over two months have lapsed since the applicability of Central Right to Information Act to the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir yet Government has not started acting on its various important provisions much to the disappointment and confusion of the RTI activists.
However, even after the lapse of over two months no seriousness has been shown by the Government in ensuring compliance to these important provisions of the Central Right to Information Act. This can be gauged from the fact that in most of the departments the Central Public Information Officers and Assistant Central Public Information Officers have not been designated till date. No doubt there are PIOs and APIOs in many departments, who were designated as such as per the provisions of the J&K Right to Information Act, but either new CPIOs are required to be designated or a circular is to be issued clarifying that PIOs and APIOs appointed under repealed Act of J&K shall act as CPIOs and Additional CPIOs for the implementation of provisions of Central RTI Act. JOURNEY LINE has earlier also highlighted this issue but clarification on this aspect is imperative so as to facilitate people in easily approaching the concerned CPIOs or Additional CPIOs for obtaining information under the Central RTI Act.
What to talk of ensuring strict compliance to Section 4, which pertains to voluntary disclosure of information, the websites of almost all the departments of Government of Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir are hosting the J&K Right to Information Act, which otherwise stands repealed since October 31, 2019. The most shocking aspect is that General Administration Department, which is considered as most important wing of the Government, has yet not uploaded Central Right to Information Act on its website.

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