Ten years after the implementation of the J&K Right to Information (RTI) Act, voluntary disclosure of information under its section 4 remains poor.As per the State Information Commissions’ (SIC) data, “there are 144 departments that have made their information public, but there are many departments and divisions that are yet to put their information on their websites”.
However, the SIC data adds, the exact number of the departments that haven’t complied with the rules of the Act is not known, but there are scores of such offices that are yet to make information public.
The Jammu and Kashmir High Court has been persistently directing the government to strictly adhere to the mandate of the Jammu and Kashmir Right to Information Act 2009 in letter and spirit, particularly its section 4 which calls for voluntary disclosure of information by all its departments.But flouting the rules of the Jammu and Kashmir RTI Act, many departments in the state are yet to make voluntary disclosure of information as directed by the law.
The J&K Right to Information Act 2009 has been in operation in the state since past ten years. Prior to this Act the J&K had introduced the concept of transparency law in 2004. The present Act is modeled on central Right to Information Act 2005 with important provisions which make it stronger than the central Act.
As per the Act, “subject to the provision of the Act, every person residing in the state shall have the right to information. Every public authority shall – maintain all its records duly catalogued and indexed in a manner and the form which facilitates the right to information under the Act and ensure that all records that are appropriate to be computerized are, within a reasonable time and subject to availability of resources, computerized and connected through a network all over the state on different systems so that access to such records is facilitated.”
The Act further states: “Publish within one hundred and twenty days from the commencement of the Act – the particulars of its organization, functions and duties, the powers and duties of its officers and employees, procedure followed in the decision making process, including channel of supervision and accountability”
“The norms set by it for the discharge of its functions, the rules, regulations, instructions, manuals and records, held by it or under its control or used by its employees for discharging its functions, a directory of its officers and employees, the monthly remuneration received by each of its officers and employees, including the system of compensation as provided in its regulations, the budget allocated to each of its agency, indicating the particulars of all plans, proposed expenditures and reports on disbursement made and many other relevant disclosures from time to time.”
State Information Commissioner, Ashraf Mir said: “Every year we write to government that the departments who haven’t disclosed information should do voluntarily disclose information as the Act demands. And the departments which have done the voluntary disclosures have updated outdated information because the offices keep on changing and they have to update the information accordingly.”Mir further said, “Departments are complying to the rules of the RTI act, but not fully.”