As reported by Anindo Dey in timesofindia.indiatimes.com on 26 August 2011:
RTI Act almost defunct in state
JAIPUR: Even as the state tries to provide a corruption-free government with the Lokseva Guarantee Bill, a similar venture by it earlier has fallen by the wayside. With no chief information commissioner (CIC) in the state for the past five months the much-trumpeted Right To Information (RTI) Act, which aims to bring in transparency, has almost become defunct. Incidentally, Rajasthan had taken the first steps in bringing this law in the country.
According to Kamal Tak, an activist of the Suchna Evum Rozgar Ka Adhikar Abhiyan, "The implementation of the RTI Act is in a pathetic condition in the state. The commissions' office is absolutely defunct with nearly 5,000 second appeals awaiting a hearing. The information commissioner (IC) has refused to hear these appeals in the absence of the head of the commission who is the CIC."
Under the RTI Act the every state is required to have one CIC and nine ICs. Rajasthan had appointed a CIC in 2006, six months after the implementation of the Act, but had failed to appoint any IC. It was only recently that T Srinivasan, retired IAS, was appointed as the sole IC in the state.
Section 15 of the Act provides that whenever an application for any information is denied information or given inappropriate information or is given half-baked information, he or she can make a first appeal to the department itself. Thereafter, if he still remains unsatisfied he can go for a second appeal to the information commissioner and a final appeal to the CIC.
"But with no CIC present in the state, the IC has refused to hear appeals. Incidentally, Section 15 of the Act is also not clear of what action can be taken in such a situation," Tak said.
Tak had, in August, filed an RTI with the public information officer of the administrative reforms department, the nodal body in the state for the Act. The application had inquired on the steps taken by the state government for the appointment of a new CIC after the retirement of D Kaurani, the former CIC in April.
In its reply, the public information officer of the administrative reforms department had disclosed that prior to the retirement of the CIC the principal secretary of the administrative reforms department through the chief secretary had written to the CMO for the appointment of a new CIC. Later, the department also apprised the CMO that due to the non-appointment of a CIC, RTI appeals are not being heard. But the CMO is yet to arrive at a decision.
"The CIC of any state is to be appointed by a committee comprising the chief minister, the leader of the Opposition and a cabinet minister. Provisions in this regards are mentioned in Section 15(3) of the RTI Act but in our state it is the lack of political will that the committee is not able to meet," said Tak adding that persons such as a journalist, social activists or retired IAS etc can be appointed as the CIC.
"The fact is that the as chief minister Ashok Gehlot and leader of Opposition Vasunhara Raje do not see eye-to-eye they are not meeting and delaying the appointment. Earlier, reasons that were cited is that Raje had gone off to London on personal work and so she was not able to meet Gehlot. But now that she is back, immediate measures must be taken to appoint the CIC. Else, even after having taken the lead in the implementation of the RTI Act, its plight in the state will make it a laughing stock," sources said.
Tak added in such a situation all that the state needs to do is to reappoint the IC as the CIC but even such an initiative is absent in the state.
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