Fighting corruption: ‘Toothless’ SIC fails transparency law

Srinagar: In at least 46.8 percent cases of Right to Information Act, the J&K State Information Commission (SIC) has failed to issue show cause notices, negating the basic idea of the transparency law.

An analytical study of 252 decisions of the SIC taken during April 2017 to January reveals that the 235 decisions were taken on appeals and 17 on complaints.

The study conducted by three law students of Kashmir University in collaboration with New Delhi based Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) revealed that in 86 cases the Public Information Officer (PIO) and First Appellate Authority (FAA) have not replied to the appeals.

“In 21 cases, there was no reply from the PIO and applicants were dissatisfied with the FAA. Also, in 11 cases, the PIO didn’t comply with the FAA orders while as in 29 cases the FAA didn’t issue any order,” said Sumaila Qureshi, one of the authors of the study. The other authors of the study are Adeela Firdous, Naveed Bukhtiyar, Shikha Chibbar, Neha Rani, and Venkatesh Nayak.

In a startling revelation, the study revealed that only 17 cases were filed by females and 235 by males.

Qureshi said that highest number of RTI applications, 133, was filed by people in Jammu, while as the SIC received 111 cases in Kashmir, 2 in Ladakh, and 6 didn’t mention the residence of the complainant.

The highest number of RTI cases, 34, pertained to the General Administration Department (GAD), which is headed by the Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti. It was followed by the Health and Medical Education department with 22 cases and 19 in School Education. The lowest number of RTI cases, 1, pertained to departments of Agriculture, Finance, Food and Supplies, Information, and Economic Reconstruction Agency.

The study has also revealed that the 145 cases pertained to the public interest, 56 to personal interest while as in 51 cases the nature of the information involved was not clear.

“The performance of the SIC is dismal as its orders are not implemented strictly. Also, the SIC is not serious about ensuring transparency,” said J&K RTI Movement Chairman, Dr. Sheikh Ghulam Rasool.


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