Right to Information Act 2005 is a powerful weapon in the hands of the people, who are the real owners of information and officials are mere custodians, State Information Commissioner R. Dileep Reddy said on Thursday.
People have a right to demand information and officials have to part with it, if it was not confidential in nature, he said in a review meeting with district officials, tahsildars and MPDOs at Collectorate Sabha Bhavan here. RTI Act came into force on October 12, 2005 in the State. However, the Act was in force in Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and other States for several years, he said.
The Act would help equip people with information they required and would curb corruption, ensure transparency in governance, Mr. Dileep Reddy stated. People gained substantial awareness of RTI Act and it was the bounden duty of officials to give information demanded by people, he said. Neglect of RTI Act provisions would lead to punishment as per law. He urged officials to give information expeditiously to those seeking it, without being complacent that they have a time of 30 days.
If information sought by a citizen did not pertain to their department, officials concerned should transfer the application to the department concerned within five days as per provisions of Section 6 and 3 of RTI Act, the Commissioner said. A manual pertaining to 17 subjects was yet to be prepared in many districts, he remarked. Though awareness on RTI Act was low in Kadapa, Medak and Mahabubnagar districts, some active NGOs were networking information all over the country thereby bringing the desired results, he said.
In 90 per cent of the 8,500 cases dealt with the Commission, officials possessed information but did not give them, he said. He termed the attitude as negligence of officials. Information sought by any citizen should be given except those coming under Section 8, 9, 11 and 24.