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Thread: Government offices not honouring information law: campaigners

  1. Government offices not honouring information law: campaigners


    By Frederick Noronha, Pune, May 15: Hidden in the powerful Right to Information (RTI) Act is an equally potent section that could change the way India is governed.

    But Section 4 - requiring all government offices to put out a wide range of information about their functioning on their own - is hardly getting implemented across the country.

    Campaigners of RTI from across the country who met here recently are working to get the government to implement its own law. RTI was passed in mid-2005.

    "This law requires the government to provide (and release) almost 60 percent of the information available with any public authority," argues Vijay Krishna Kumbhar, a Pune-based RTI campaigner.

    He points out that this section of the law says every public authority shall, without any option, publish all relevant facts while formulating important policies or announcing decisions that affect the public.

    "Can there be any policy or decision of any public authority which does not affect the public?" asks Kumbhar.

    He has been busy writing to various authorities, drawing their attention to the legal need to "publish certain categories of documents (suo motu) so that citizens have to resort to the RTI act to the minimum to obtain information".

    His latest target was the Pune Municipal Corporation, since he believes municipalities tend to be misgoverned a bit more than other institutions.

    "If the government departments had themselves come out with their information, there would be less need for the citizen to approach (officials) for," says Kumbhar.

    "Why do we have to waste our time, money and energy for (official) information which is supposed to be available off-hand under Section 4 of the Right to Information Act," he asks.

    Section 4 lays down that "every public authority" needs to maintain all its records "duly catalogued and indexed in a manner and form which facilitates the right to information...and ensures that all records that are appropriate (are) computerised..."

    It tells every government office across India to publish "within 120 days" from the RTI Act's enactment a set of 17 different and detailed kinds of information about its functioning.

    Reports coming in from grassroots campaigners from across India say most government departments have not complied with the requirements of the law.

    By spelling out the particulars of how a government department functions, what the powers of its officers are, how decisions are made, details of records held by it... and a lot more, the functioning of any government department could come in for a new form of transparency.

    In addition, government departments are also required to "provide reasons for its administrative or quasi-judicial decisions to affected persons".

    "With Sec 4 properly implemented, a lot of information would have become available and open," says Prakash Kardalay, an editor-turned-campaigner who has been spearheading the RTI campaign from Pune.

    Government offices not honouring information law: campaigners @ NewKerala.Com News Channel


    Last edited by ganpat1956; 15-05-07 at 07:25 PM.

  2. Re: Government offices not honouring information law: campaigners


    It is not strictly correct that Government Departments are not divulging information though there is considerable scope to improve! The very fact that most departments in the Age of Information Technology of which our country is a leader have very informative websites disproves this contention, The National Portal of NIC is a site from where almost any Ministry can be accessed. In fact they even encourage other websites to provide links! Thus information is being made available though there may be some deficiencies in keeping it up-to date! This can easily be rectified with a little effort!
    Hari Gautam Obhrai

  3. #3
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    Re: Government offices not honouring information law: campaigners


    My experience has been equally bad.
    I have had to resort to applying under the RTI act
    to "open the eyes" of some public authorities to disclose
    what is mandatory under Section 4.
    In two cases the PIO had never heard of voluntary disclosure.

    Mr Hari,
    Please visit RTI Portal — RTI Portal which is the Govt. of India Information Service Portal. You will see for yourself that it is outdated, with links not working, it talks about using the "search" button when no such button exists on the website, etc..We might be leaders in IT to the rest of the world but sadly within our own country, Govt. departments lag behind. I did make an effort sending a email to the email id given on the bottom of the page but as expected...no reply as yet.
    But as you rightly said...we have to continue making efforts since otherwise I feel that as citizens we do not have a right to complain if we do not put in efforts !

  4. Re: Government offices not honouring information law: campaigners



    These deficiencies can easily be rectified! We need not be so pessimistic! There are all sorts of people everywhere as we all come from same society! Hari Gautam Obhrai.

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