Srinagar: Voluntary disclosure of information by most of the government departments “leaves much to be desired,” the State Information Commission (SIC) said in its annual report which was tabled in the Legislative Assembly on Friday.
Making voluntary disclosure is binding upon all the departments under the transparency law’s section 4(1)(b).
The SIC ever since its inception, the report said, has been urging the administrative departments and public authorities under their control to make voluntary disclosures so that bulk of the information regarding public authorities and about different facets of their working remains in public domain as envisaged in the RTI Act.
“Over the past three years the public authorities have not shown a positive response as only a small number of departments opened websites and uploaded the mandatory information thereon,” the report said.
Among 289 administrative and subordinate departments, only 83 departments have hosted information on their websites in the year 2013-14, said SIC, custodian of the transparency law in the state.
“With majority of the departments failing to make suo-motu disclosure despite lapse of years together, the Commission in exercise of its mandate, started a process of calling public authorities for reviewing implementation of RTI Act with special emphasis on section 4(1)(b). The Commission also invoked provisions of Section 15 of the Act and issued directions to the Government for taking concrete steps to ensure that public authorities comply with Section 4 of the Act,” the report said.
The J&K RTI Act was enacted by the government on March 20, 2009, with a view to secure access to information under the control of public authorities, and to promote transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority.
If public authorities had complied with Section 4 of the Act, there would be little need to file an RTI application and wait 30 days for the response. RTI activists have repeatedly pointed out that due to non-voluntary disclosure of information, common people were being made to run from pillar to post.
In its annual report the SIC also revealed that 29,846 RTI applications were submitted during the year 2013-14, making it the highest number of RTI applications received in a single year.
“The rejection of RTI applications under different provisions of the Act was 9% in the first year, which came down to 4% during 2nd year, 1.37 % in the 3rd year, and 1.54 % in the 4th year. During 2013-14, the percentage of rejection was 2.76%,” the report informed.