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  1. #1

    Default Rajasthan: RTI Act almost defunct in state

    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.

    Twitter: @cjkarira

  2. Default Re: Rajasthan: RTI Act almost defunct in state

    Someone urgently needs to file a WP in court seeking directions on the government to make the appointments. Remember, Gujarat Govt. was forced to make 2 appointments of IC's in 2010 following a WP in Gujarat High Court by late RTI Activist Amit Jethwa. There are so many NGO's working in Rajasthan; wonder why none is interested in making such a move?

  3. #3

    Default Re: Rajasthan: RTI Act almost defunct in state

    The situation in AP is worse.
    There is only one CIC. The last 3 ICs demitted office on November 15 and 16, 2010 but still no new appointments.
    Very disappointing that RTI activists in AP just want their names to come in newspapers but do not want to do anything on ground level to get this SIC to work and clear backlog !

    Twitter: @cjkarira

  4. #4

    Default Re: Rajasthan: RTI Act almost defunct in state

    As reported in timesofindia.indiatimes.com on 31 August 2011:

    Srinivasan likely to be next CIC

    JAIPUR: Information commissioner T Srinivasan is likely to become the next chief information commissioner of the state while the name of former chief justice of Patna High Court, Justice Rajesh Balia has been recommended for the post of chairperson of state human rights commission. The recommendations were sent to the governor for approval.

    The names were finalised in a meeting at the official residence of chief minister Ashok Gehlot. The meeting was attended by the leader of Opposition Vasundhara Raje, speaker Deependra Singh Shekhawat and home minister Shanti Dhariwal. "The names have been forwarded to the governor, who will take the final decision," Dhariwal said.
    According to sources, while the names of former secretary, Rajasthan Legislative Assembly, H R Kuri and retired senior IPS officer M K Devrajan have been recommended for members of the commission.

    Srinivasan was appointed as the information commissioner in September 2010. The post of CIC was vacant since April after the retirement of D Kaurani. Nearly 5,000 second appeals are waiting for hearing at the Commission. They will be taken up on a priority basis after a formal appointment. According to Section 15(3) of the RTI Act, the CIC is to be appointed by a committee comprising the chief minister, the leader of the Opposition and a cabinet minister.
    The State Human Rights Commission has been virtually lying defunct for almost a year now, for which the state government faced lot of criticism. The ruling party had alleged that Raje's absence was also one of the reasons for the delay.

    Tuesday's meeting came as a surprise in the political circles as this was the first time since December 2003 that Gehlot and Raje participated in a joint meeting. Sources claim that names were agreed upon unanimously and there was no dispute.

    Twitter: @cjkarira

  5. #5

    Default Re: Rajasthan: RTI Act almost defunct in state

    Gujarat is also without Chief IC from 05-07-2011.

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