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

Mystery around Gujarat PSU 'transfer' of Rs 250 crore to Canadian firm Karnalyte

By AK Luke, IAS (Retd)*
While returning from a Board meeting of the Oil India Limited (OIL) in Ahmedabad some time in 2012, two officers of the Gujarat State Fertilizers and Chemicals Ltd (GSFC), Nanavaty and Patel,  saw me off at the airport. They said they were proceeding to Canada in connection with a project GSFC had entered into with a company there. As we were running late, I hastily wished them the best.

Savarkar in Ahmedabad 'declared' two-nation theory in 1937, Jinnah followed 3 years later

By Our Representative
One of the top freedom fighters whom BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi revere the most, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, was also a great supporter of the two nation theory for India, one for Hindus another for Muslims, claims a new expose on the man who is also known to be the original proponent of the concept of Hindutva.

Indians have made 119 nations their ‘karma bhumi’: US-based Hindu NGO tells Rupani

Counterview Desk
In a stinging letter to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, the US-based Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR), referring to the report citing his justification for the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) – that “while Muslims can choose any one of the 150 Islamic countries in the world (for residence), India is the only country for Hindus" – has said, he should remember, Hindus have made several countries, including USA, their home.

J&K continues to be haunted, as parts of India 'degenerate' into quasi-Kashmir situation

By Rajendran Narayanan*, Sandeep Pandey**
“Jab har saans mein bandook dikhe toh baccha kaise bekhauf rahe?” (How can a child be fearless when she sees a gun in every breath?) remarked Anwar, a gardener from Srinagar, when asked about the situation in Kashmir. On November 30, 2019, a walk through an iron gate in a quiet neighbourhood of Srinagar took us inside a public school. It was 11 am when typically every school is abuzz with activity. Not here though.

Tata Mundra's possible closure? Power ministry's 'pressure tactic' on consumer states

By Bharat Patel*
Tata power has announced to the Union Ministry of Power that Tata Power may be forced to stop operating  its imported coal-based Mundra Ultra-Mega Power Project (UMPP) after February, 2020. It is not only unfortunate but also criminal that irreversible damage has been caused to the fragile ecosystem of Mundra coast for a project that will have a running life of only seven years.

What about religious persecution of Dalits, Adivasis, asks anti-CAA meet off Ahmedabad

By Rajiv Shah
A well-attended Dalit rights meet under the banner “14 Pe Charcha” (discussion on Article 14 of the Indian Constitution), alluding to Prime Minister Narendra Modi well-known campaign phrase of the 2014 Parliamentary elections, “chai pe charcha” (discussion over cup of tea), organized off Ahmedabad, has resolved on Wednesday to hold a 14 kilometres-long rally on April 14 to oppose the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), enacted on December 10-11.

Population control? 10% Indian couples want to delay next pregnancy, but fail

Counterview Desk
Shireen Jejeebhoy, director at Aksha Centre for Equity and Wellbeing, previously senior associate at the Population Council, India, argues that the debate on the country's population was fuelled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day address to the nation, where he drew attention to “concern” about the challenges posed by this ‘exploding’ population growth, needs to centre around the promotion of rights and education, instead of the language of explosion and the threat of coercion that this term implies.

Upendra Baxi on foolish excellence, Indian judges and Consitutional cockroaches

By Rajiv Shah
In a controversial assertion, top legal expert Upendra Baxi has sought to question India's Constitution makers for neglecting human rights and social justice. Addressing an elite audience in Ahmedabad, Prof Baxi said, the constitutional idea of India enunciated by the Constituent Assembly tried to resolve four key conflicting concepts: governance, development, rights and justice.

Kerala governor turned History Congress into political arena, 'insulted' Prof Irfan Habib

Counterview Desk
In a signed statement, office bearers of the Aligarh Society of History and Archaeology (ASHA), Prof Syed Ali Nadeem Rezavi (president), Prof Jabir Raza (vice-president), Prof Manvendra Kumar Pundhir (secretary) and Prof Farhat Hasan (joint secretary), have said that Kerala governor Arif Mohammad Khan had sought to insult veteran historian Prof Irfan Habib, 88, at the 80th session of the Indian History Congress, even as turning it into his “political arena”.