While the government is under obligation to provide information under RTI Act, instances have time and again come to fore wherein the authorities concerned have violated the law.
In a fresh example Tehsildar Pattan in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district passed an order denying information disbursement of relief to a victim of 2014 flood.
The RTI activist Karar Hassan Reshi of Hagarpora Budibugh Pattan had sought information with regard to case of a resident Syed Ali Shah who was paid two instalments of flood relief of Rs 3800 and Rs 25,000 respectively but the 3rd installment of Rs 20,000 was delayed to him.
The information seeker wanted to undertake physical inspection of the record with regard to flood relief case under section 2 (i) of J&K RTI Act. The PIO (Tehsildar) instead of dispatching the information denied it to Reshi.
The Tehsildar (vide his communication No: Teh/ Ptn/OQ/RTI/153-55, dated 28 March 2018 rejected the application: “An application/request made is hereby rejected as having not filed in accordance with rules of J&K RTI Act 2012,” reads the official response.
The aggrieved RTI applicant has now filed an appeal before first appellate authority, additional DC Baramulla with the prayer that PIO (Tehsildar) be recommended for penal action before State Information Commission (SIC).
The Appellant has prayed that information sought be uploaded on the DC office website and made voluntarily available to public as mandated under the Act.
As reported recently the PIO in DC Office Budgam had also denied information to aggrieved farmers whose land is going to be acquired by Government for construction of ring road. The information is neither in public domain nor has been uploaded on any government website as mandated under law.
Speaking on the issue Raja Muzaffar Bhat, founder/chairman RTI Movement, said the official (Tehsildar Pattan) seems to be “ignorant” about J&K RTI Act 2009 as he was quoting “RTI Act 2012” to deny information.
“There is no such act called J&K RTI Act 2012. Inspite of nine years of enactment of the law in J&K, the government officials especially the Public Information Officers (PIOs) are still unaware about the of RTI Act” said Muzaffar.
He said the state government was under legal obligation to create awareness about the RTI among citizens as well as the government officers particularly the designated first appellate authorities and public information officers (PIOs).