Budgets and their Disclosure under the RTI Act 2009

Budgets and their Disclosure under the RTI Act 2009
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Sheikh Maqbool

The Jammu & Kashmir RTI Foundation, for the universalization of the RTI or keeping it, at least, within the reach of the common people, for establishment of more RTI cells, for improvement of the training programs has been rooting for the disclosure of Budget(s) The foundation always demanded that bureaucratic expenditure, expenditure for MLA’S and so on should be curtailed and the amount should be diverted for RTI Awareness.
Since 2009, no budget is being allocated for implementation of RTI Act in Jammu and Kashmir. However, activists work day and night for its awareness. Thus, whatever might be the propaganda, the allocation is being done not to cater to the RTI but to provide the capitalist class a profitable field for investment, and for creating the environment in the field of governance suitable for private investment. This is despite the intense crisis of capitalism so that they can continue to extort maximum profit by draining the common people.
Section 4(1)b of the RTI Act lays down the information which should be disclosed by public Authorities on a suo motu or proactive basis. Section 4(2) and 4(3) prescribe the method of dissemination of this information. The purpose of suo motu disclosure under section 4 is to place large amount of information in public domain on a proactive basis to make the functioning of public authorities more transparent and also to reduce the need for filing individual RTI applications. Since the promulgation of the Act in 2009 , small amount of information relating to functioning of the government is being put in public domain. However, the new Chief Information Commissioner Mr. Khurshid Ahmad Ganaie passed clear directions in this regard and first the meeting with Chief Secretary in presence of Activists and the Honorable commissioner took place last month , but the quality and quantity of proactive disclosure is not up to the desired level. The weak implementation of the section 4 of the RTI Act is partly due to the fact that certain provisions of this section have not been detailed .Furthermore, there is need to set up a compliance mechanism to ensure that requirements under section 4 of the RTI Act are met
In order to address the above, the Government of Jammu and Kashmir should constitute a Task Force on suo motu disclosure under the Act which includes representatives of civil society, organizations active in the field of Right to Information for strengthening compliance with provisions for suo motu or proactive disclosure. However, it may be kept in mind that the proactive disclosure should be done in the local language and it should be made in as many mediums as feasible and disclosures should be kept up to date.

—The author is the Chief spokesperson of the J&K RTI foundation and can be reached at: sheikhmaqbool2012@gmail.com