Compliance with RTI Act lacking
The public find it difficult to get the information they seek in many cases
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Many of the government departments and government-funded agencies are yet to comply with provisions of the Right to Information (RTI) Act regarding publication of information two years after the provisions of the Act came into effect.
The public is also finding it difficult to get the information sought by them in a number of cases as officials either do not respond to requests or adopt evasive tactics.
The State Public Information Commission has received more than 10,000 complaints over the past two years. However, only a small percentage of these actually come up for a hearing owing to various reasons. In most cases, the complaints do not fall in the category of petitions or appeals under the provisions of the Act. Though a Public Information Officer (PIO), can be fined if information is delayed beyond a month, this provision is not always invoked.
The Act requires government departments and government-funded institutions to publish functional information and list of PIOs and assistant PIOS on their website. However, only a few departments such as the Law Department have done this. Some other departments and government agencies have published information about their PIOs, while details of PIOs in the Secretariat on the government’s web portal are incomplete and outdated.
Web site no exception
The Information Commission’s web site is also no exception. It has been remaining incomplete for the past one year. The Commission had started publishing its orders online. But, the practices ended in a day. If continued, these would have served as case law for reference.
Though the departments and agencies are also expected to release routine information to the public without waiting for requests, this is not often the case. The Treasuries and the Public Works Departments (PWD) have much of their data in the electronic form. But much of the information, including full details of contracts awarded by the PWD, is not in a public domain.
The government is now considering increasing of the size of the Information Commission in view of the pendency of cases before it. The expenditure on the Commission so far, including renovation of its office building, has exceeded Rs.10 crore. Additional members mean heavier expenditure.
The Hindu : Kerala News : Compliance with RTI Act lacking
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