HC seeks govt response on voluntary disclosure under RTI Act

HC seeks govt response on voluntary disclosure under RTI Act
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Srinagar: The J&K High Court on Tuesday directed state government to file response on the implementation of section 4 of the RTI Act.
The acting Chief Justice Ramalingam Sudhakar and Justice MK Hanjura sought response from General Administration Department (GAD) with all the details with respect to the implementation of sec-4 of the RTI act by or before May 15.
In a PIL before court for implementation of section 4 and 23 of the RTI Act 2009, advocate Shafkat Nazir pleaded that during framing of the RTI Act, Section 4 was a commitment and promise to ensure that “It shall be a constant endeavour of every public authority to take steps in accordance with the requirements of clause (b) of sub-section (1) to provide as much information suo motu to the public at regular intervals through various means of communications, including internet, so that the public have minimum resort to the use of this Act to obtain information.”
“By and large this commitment has not been met and only lip service has been paid to it. An important part of this section was the promise to computerise and build a network across the country. If this had been implemented in the last 8 years, it would have led to many phenomenal benefits,” advocate Shafkat rued.
The petition has been filed on grounds that disclosure of information under the RTI Act, 2009 be voluntarily disclosed for public good and awareness be generated among masses within the meaning of section 23 of the Act.
The petition filed by Jammu and Kashmir Right to Information Movement (J&K RTI Movement) through its Chairman Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat states that the preamble of the J&K RTI Act, 2009 lays down an objective of the law in wider and specific terms to the effect that the legislation will promote transparency and accountability in the working of the public authorities in order to ensure good governance in the state.
“The section 4 and section 23 of the J&K RTI Act categorically states that every public authority shall maintain all its records duly catalogued and indexed. The authority should have all the records and should publish this information within 120 days. The information must include powers and duties of officers, the procedure followed in the decision making process, rules, regulations, instructions, manuals and records, all should be disclosed to general masses.”
“Also the information should be disclosed through different means of media channels and the information should be given to the public at regular intervals,” the petition states.
The petition prays that the court must take cognizance of the matter so that all the permissible information is made available to the public within 120 days from the date of commencement of the act. The act came to force on 20th March 2009 and by July 19, 2009, the authorities were expected to comply with the said provision of law. “However no information has been disclosed voluntarily by the authorities as they failed miserably in the implementation of the said sections of the law,” the petition reads.