Friday, February 09, 2018

Modi govt's 13% ministries, 6% departments comply by Cabinet Secretariat's RTI transparency directive: Report

By Our Representative
Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions Jitendra Singh has admitted in the Rajya Sabha that the Government of India has “no mechanism” to monitor compliance with its own transparency directive, requiring each ministry and department to submit monthly report to the Cabinet Secretariat on proactive disclosures to be made under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005.
Singh said this in reply to an unstarred query regarding the April 2016 Central Information Commission (CIC) directive to the Cabinet Secretariat to upload monthly reports of work done by all Ministries and Departments on their respective websites. Two months later, the Cabinet Secretariat issued a circular to all Central Ministries and Departments requiring them to upload the monthly reports.
Meanwhile, the Delhi-based advocacy group Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), which works on RTI issues, has said that its “quick website check” of 52 Central Ministries and as many Departments reveals that only 13% of the Ministries and 5.7% of 52 Departments are compliant with the transparency directive by publishing monthly reports up to December 2017.
If the Ministries and Departments that have their own websites are counted, the compliance rate for Ministries goes up to 14.89% and 6.5%, respectively, says CHRI’s Venkatesh Nayak in a report based on the quick check.
Nayak says, “Having uploaded all monthly reports up to January 2018, the Ministry of Environment and Forests and Climate Change is the only entity to comply fully with the transparency directive.”
He adds, “Three Ministries, Civil Aviation, Coal and Petroleum and Natural Gas have published monthly reports up to December 2017”, while the Ministry of Finance has published monthly reports “up to November 2017.”
Nayak further reveals, “The Ministry of Home Affairs is also reasonably compliant with the transparency directive having uploaded reports up to December 2017”, though adding, “Monthly reports for May and July 2017 are missing from its website.”
According to Nayak the Ministry of Mines “seems to have stopped publishing monthly reports after February 2017”, while the Ministry for Rural Development appears to have “stopped this practice after July 2016.
Coming to departments, Nayak says, “The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) and of Food and Public Distribution have uploaded all monthly reports up to December 2017.
Also, he says, “The Department of Justice has published all reports for the calendar year of 2017 but seems to have removed reports of previous months.”
However, Nayak regrets, the “Department of Investment and Public Asset Management has published only bullet pointed information for each month.”
Similarly, he says, “the monthly reports of the Department of Pharmaceuticals are published intermittently”, while, the Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances “stopped publishing monthly reports after January 2017.”
Comments Nayak, “Section 25(1)(c) of the RTI Act obligates the Central government to require all public authorities under its control to publish accurate information about their activities from time to time. This is a statutory mandate. However, the evidence indicates a deficit of both political and bureaucratic will to ensure compliance with this transparency requirement.”

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