Srinagar: The JK Raj Bhawan has denied information to a local applicant under the Right to Information Act (RTI) while the Home Ministry has provided the same information to another applicant.
The applicant, Dr Sheikh Ghulam Rasool, who is the patron of JK RTI Movement, had sought a copy of the proclamation and the correspondence between the Governor NN Vohra and the Government of India after the demise of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed.
However, the information was denied because the Raj Bhawan Public Information Officer (PIO) had invoked the interim stay of Supreme Court. “Wherein the Apex court opined that the question of law whether the Governor is public authority within the meaning of section 2 (h) of the RTI Act 2005,” said the PIO.
The PIO said the “privileged” communication between the Governor and the Government of India and other matters pertaining to official functioning cannot be divulged. The Apex court ruling, which the PIO has referred to, pertains to central RTI Act 2005. But Article 370, a “hollowed out” special status to Jammu and Kashmir in the Indian constitution, provides a separate RTI law enacted by the Legislative Assembly in 2009.
Last week, the Governor during a regional RTI conference had insisted that the RTI law strengthens democracy and weeds out corruption.
“Governor comes under the ambit under the definition of public authority in the RTI Act. The central government RTI Act is completely different from JK RTI Act. So, invoking the Supreme Court ruling doesn’t apply here,” Sheikh said.
However, another RTI applicant from New Delhi associated with CHRI, Venkatesh Nayak, who had sought the same information was provided it by the Home Ministry.
Nayak said Governor’s rule was in the interest of the public and there could be anything confidential in it. “The communication conducted between the Governor and the Government of India was conducted in the public interest so that people can have efficient government in absence of an elected government. By denying information, it will create more harm for the public interest,” Nayak told Kashmir Reader.
He said the central RTI legislation and the JK RTI Act are completely different laws and the central law does not govern the JK Governor. “Denying information by the Governor is absolutely unacceptable and I think he, being an advocate of transparency, should have provided the information. The good thing is that the Home Ministry has set an example of transparency by granting the information,” he added.