GUWAHATI, April 26 – The news might be a shocker, yet it is official. The State Department of Forest just had its mandate changed. Among its functions are “Appointment of Muslim marriage registrars or Kazis and issue of Muslim marriage licences and, issue of Christian marriage licences to church pastor.” The information has been dispensed through an official Assam Government website The Official website of the Government of Assam. If one visits the site and goes to departments and clicks mandate of the Forest department, or simply visits http://assamgovt.nic.in/departments/forest_dept.asp#01, a series of bizarre information unfolds.
Among its major Acts administered are - (i) Indian Registration Act 1908 (ii) Indian Stamp Act 1899 (iii) Indian Stamp (Assam Amendment) Act 2004 (iv) Indian Christian Marriage Act 1872, (v) Assam Muslim Marriage and Divorce Registration Act 1935, (vi) Birth, Death and Marriage Registration Act 1886 and Rules and Execution Orders therein, (vii) Hindu Marriage Act 1955, (viii) Special Marriage Act 1954 and (ix) Special Marriage ( Assam) Rules, 1957.
In the last paragraph lies the revelation, when it is stated “Registration is a non-plan department and during 2005 -06 the Department did not implement any plan scheme”. In other words all the details provided could have been related to the registration department.
What is surprising for the reader is that there is no mention of the real mandate of the Forest Department. No reference to its objectives, no details about its schemes unlike the case with other departments. Some one accessing the official state government website would have absolutely no idea on the functioning of a vital department.
The flaw seems glaring for the preparation of the website must have included several checks. Ironically, the Assam Government has recently created some noises about ensuring proper forest cover and even went the extra mile to felicitate Nobel award winner RK Pachauri and seek his advice on global warming and climate change.
Another major shortcoming of the website is lack of any data for someone seeking information about the Right To Information Act. The home page of the website contains a link to RTI 2005. However if one clicks on it, the new page opens with a disclaimer “You are being redirected to a site outside the NIC domain. NIC does not take any reponsibility (sic) for the contents of the same.” And what is more, even that site fails to open!