Govt admits loopholes in RTI Act implementation

Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir government has impressed upon all the Administrative Secretaries to ensure implementation of Section 4 of the Right to Information (RTI) Act, which binds all the departments to voluntarily disclose information about their functioning.
In this regard, the government has directed the Secretaries to ensure implementation of the provision of the Section 4 in their Administrative as well as Subordinate Departments “in letter and spirit”.
According to an order (21-GAD of 2014), the government has asked the departments to host all requisite information on the official websites and their periodical updation.
The fresh order by the government follows its review about the implementation the Section 4, considered to be the sole of the RTI Act.
“It has been observed that some of the departments do not have a website and in cases where the departments have constructed their official websites, these are not being updated regularly and the requisite data has not been uploaded therein,” the government said.
The issue, it said, also came up for discussion in the meeting of the Committee of Secretaries (COS) held under the chairmanship of Chief Secretaries on April 1 this year.
Jammu and Kashmir High Court had also issued a notice on a petition, seeking directions to the government to comply with Section 4 of the RTI Act, 2009 in letter and spirit within a specific time period.
“If the public authorities would have complied with the Section 4 of the Act, the information seeker wouldn’t be asked to file application for seeking information and waiting unless and until 30 days will be completed,” the petitioner Advocate Firdous Ahmad Parray had said in the PIL, underscoring that due to non-voluntary disclosure of information, a commoner is being tossed from pillar to post.
In its annual report 2011-2012, the SIC, custodian of the Transparency Law, had also stressed the need for full implementation of Section 4 of the Act.