State govt’s dithering on GIC staff robbing RTI Act of teeth
Rahul Mangaonkar | TNN
Ahmedabad: The Right to Information (RTI) Act has its origin in the need for survival of the people and their fundamental rights. But the Gujarat Information Commission (GIC), whose job is to enforce the Act, finds its own survival in question with no staff being allocated by the state government six months after it was sanctioned and a backlog of a whopping 3,665 cases to dispose.
This had prompted RTI activists, led by Magsaysay award winner Arvind Kejriwal of Parivartan and Nikhil Dey of Majdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan, to take on the state government at a seminar on RTI here on Monday. They said they are ready to offer their services to run GIC at a token fee of Re 1.
Activists are peeved at the way the state’s general administration department and the administrative reforms and training department (ARTD) under it, responsible for allotment of staff to GIC, have failed to act.
TOI had earlier reported how in September last year, the chief minister’s office (CMO) sanctioned the appointment of 35 additional staff for GIC, which started in 2005. Against a total sanctioned strength of 46, the GIC is functioning with just 11, which includes peons and drivers.
And, the man who could have given GIC the teeth, PK Gera, an IAS officer of 1985 batch, has not shown any willingness to ensure that his department allocates the people. Gera should know, having served at the Central Information Commission in Delhi.
However, all that Gera has to say is that “it is GAD that is not allotting the staff.” Gera says these staff could be allotted once the two new commissioners are appointed, activists point out that these commissioners too are part of the same GIC. “The 35 additional staff sanctioned are for the new commissioners. Let them take charge and staff will follow,” Gera insists.
“The staff crunch has only emboldened those officers who do not wish to comply with the RTI regime as they feel that the system has no teeth,” said Kejriwal.