Skip to main content

J&K govt "hampering" implementation of state RTI Act, refusing to fill up state information commission posts

By Our Representative
In a letter to Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, Wajahat Habibullah, former Chief Information Commissioner, Central Information Commission, has taken strong objection to the manner in which the state government is neglecting J&K Right to Information Act by allowing the State Information Commission (SIC) to continue functioning with just one state information commission.
Habibullah's letter to Mufti, dated July 4, comes following several local representations to the J&K chief minister about SIC being without any chief information commissioner (CIC) and a second information commissioner (IC) after the posts fell vacant in February 2016 and October 2015 respectively. 
One such representations said, even GR Sufi, who retired as State Chief Information Commissioner, said RTI in J&K would “die its own death” if SIC is not constituted as part the J&K Right to Information Act.
Habibullah says, “Appeals and complaints are accumulating before the commission due to these vacancies, which arose when the State was under Governor's rule.”
Saying that this is “hampering the Commission's ability to dispose of cases in a time bound manner, as required by the Act”, Habibullah, who is currently chairperson of the Commonweath Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), a Delhi-based advocacy group, notes, “If the Commission is not able to dispose of people's grievances regarding access to information in a timely manner, there is a real danger that they might lose faith in the commission, and in the Act.”
Asking Mufti, who is chairperson of the three-member committee that recommends names of suitable candidates for appointment to the JKSIC to the Governor, to “initiate the process of identifying candidates for filling up the vacancies, Habibullah says, “Adopting a participatory process in the selection process will demonstrate your government's commitment to select the most qualified and deserving candidates for appointment in a transparent manner.”
The letter also takes objection to refusal to review the manner in which the comprehensive RTI Rules, notified by the State Government in 2010, were replaced by a shorter set of rules in 2012. It said, the 2012 rules adopted a “minimalistic approach to rule-making” leading to “confusion” implementation of the J&K RTI Act.
Thus, the letter says, the 2010 Rules “provided guidance about the rank at which a Public Information Officer may be appointed in every public authority”, with a “detailed procedure for the disposal of first appeals within a public authority”, adding, “These provisions are missing in the RTI Rules notified in 2012.”
The letter asks the chief minister to set up a “committee comprising of representatives of all stakeholders such as government, civil society actors and the JKSIC to re-examine the current set of RTI Rules as well as the Rules notified in 2010 and strengthen the procedures for implementing the J&K RTI Act.”
The letter reminds the J&K RTI Act that the government should conduct awareness raising programmes for the people of J&K about their rights for seeking and obtaining information with particular emphasis on disadvantaged segments of society. “A good way of spreading awareness about RTI would be to incorporate it as a subject matter in school and college text books”, the letter insists.

Comments

TRENDING

Hindus to be 'sent' to Kashmir? Despite Israeli settlements, peace eludes the region

By Anand K Sahay*
Curfew, news and communications blackout, transportation shut-down... News reports from Kashmir are worrying. So are the views relayed through the media, especially television. Old-fashioned repression seems to be consorting comfortably with expressions of concern “for our Kashmiri brethren”. We are looking at Orwell’s 1984 in the making.

Impact of state repression? Kashmir's 65% people prefer independence: Cambridge study

By Rajiv Shah 
Even as the Government of India’s controversial move to abrogate Article 370 of the Constitution and bifurcate Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) into two union territories is not only refusing to down die but has acquired international dimensions, a recent study, published by the Cambridge University Press, has claimed “pro-independence attitudes” among that 65% of Kashmiris, warning, this sentiment worsens when the state machinery resorts “repressive violence”.

Dholera 'inundated': Gujarat govt tries selling low lying area as top smart city site

Counterview Desk
Even as the Dholera Special Investment Region Regional Development Authority (DSIRDA) of the Gujarat government was busy organising a junket for Gujarat-based journalists for the area sought to be sold as an ideal special investment region (SIR) for industrialists, well-known farmers' activist Sagar Rabari has wondered why no investor has so far agreed to put in money in an area situated in Ahmedabad district along the Gulf of Khambhat.

Congress' anti-democratic laws led to Modi govt's 'Constitutional' changes: Scholars

Counterview Desk
A large number of academics* said to be belonging to several Indian and international institutions, even as taking strong exception to the Narendra Modi government's alleged move to amend the Constitution through "illegitimate" means, have taken strong exception to their colleagues in academia who we have become "all too accustomed to adopting a calculated silence in the face of such indignities."

Kashmir normal? Schoolboys, teenagers being arbitrarily picked up, detained: Report

Counterview Desk
A four-person team, consisting of Jean Dr├Ęze, well-known development economist; Kavita Krishnan, who is with the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist); Maimoona Mollah of the All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA); and Vimal Bhai of the National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), back from a five-day fact-finding mission (August 9-13) from Kashmir, has said that people they spoke to “expressed their pain, anger, and sense of betrayal against the Government of India.”
In a report, “Kashmir Caged”, released along with a short eight-minute film, they said, the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A, dissolution of the state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), and bifurcating it into two Union Territories, is not being supported by anyone they met, except for BJP spokesperson on Kashmir affairs Ashwani Kumar Chrungoo, who claimed 46% vote share in J&K.
Excerpts from the report: When our flight landed, and the airlines staff announced that passeng…

Modi's Gujarati mind? Why govt move to 'sell-off' defence PSUs isn't in national interest

By Sandeep Pandey*
The Standing Committee on Defence, 2017-18, of the 16th Lok Sabha highlights the idea of Buy Indian-IDDM (Indigenously Designed Developed and Manufactured). The Committee expressed concern over the import content of equipments produced and developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Ordnance Factories (OFs) and defence Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) because of the dependence it creates for military hardware on foreign suppliers.

Central Gujarat effluent channel 'releasing' highly polluted industrial wastewater: PM told

Counterview Desk
Senior environmentalists of the Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS), Vadodara, Rohit Prajapati and Krishnakant, in an open letter to the Prime Minister, the Gujarat chief minister, the Gujarat chief secretary, and senior Government of India and Gujarat government officials dealing with environment, pollution and climate change have said that the authorities’ response their pleas to take action against the leakages and flow of polluted wastewater from the effluent channels of Central Gujarat industrial areas has met with complete inertia.

Can't go to court with RTI information, rule Ahmedabad authorities: Kankaria accident

By Pankti Jog*
In a shocking reply to an application filed by me, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) authorities have said that the information provided under the Right to Information (RT) Act should be used in court or in a judicial process. The Act is known to be a major tool that enables citizens to seek certified copies of documents, records from any public authority of state and Central government within 30 days, as per provisions of the Act.

Quit India Movement 'betrayal' and dubious role of Hindu Mahasabha, RSS leaders

By Shamsul Islam*
After the recent guillotine of Article 370, Hindutva ideologue Ram Madhav, while celebrating the occasion stated that it was honouring of the sacrifices of Dr Shyam Prasad Mukherjee and thousands others who laid down their lives for its removal. It is to be noted that Dr Mukherjee was a cadre of RSS and was groomed into a Hindutva leader by another Hindutva icon, VD Savarkar.

Strategy for united struggle against Hindutva 'fascism': Ideological silence is 'no option'

By Dr Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
Electoral alliance and opportunism of national and regional political parties, neoliberal economic marginalisation and soft secular Hindutva line pandering to Hindu majoritarianism laid the foundation of Hindutva fascism in post-colonial India.