SRINAGAR, Mar 20: In connection with observance of 13th year of Right to Information Movement in J&K and completion of eight years of enactment of Right to Information Act in the State, various functions and programmes were held today. In this connection an event was organized by J&K RTI Movement and Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), New Delhi at the Institute of Management, Public Administration and Rural Development (IMPA), Srinagar.
On the occasion a preliminary report on the findings from rapid study of compliance of public authorities with Section 4(1) (b) of J&K RTI Act was released.
The report revealed that compliance with the J&K RTI Act requiring more and more proactive disclosure of information is still not satisfactory in a majority of the public authorities in J&K. The report was prepared by Adv. Syed Iram Quadri & Adv. Bilal Ahmad Bhat of J&K RTI Movement & School for Rural Development and Environment and John Mascrinaus & Venkatesh Nayak from Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative. This is the first such research done by the J&K RTI Movement since the beginning of the RTI era in J&K.
Researchers Adv. Syed Iram Quadri and Adv. Bilal Ahmed presented key findings of the compliance study before a large audience comprising of RTI and social activists, lawyers, media persons and students.
Ghulam Rasool Sofi, former State Chief Information Commissioner who provided his comments on the study report, lamented the fact that there is no provision for penalizing any officer in a public authority for not complying with the proactive disclosure requirements under the RTI Act. He urged the RTI activists to begin a campaign for making the proactive disclosure provisions mandatory and subject to legal sanctions for non-compliance. Highlighting the fact that the State Information Commission remained defunct for more than one year until the appointment of the new State Chief Information Commissioner, he urged the activists to campaign for amendment to the J&K RTI Act to ensure timely filling up if vacancies in the Information Commission. He also recommended that the Selection Committee for recommending candidates for appointment be depoliticized and the Chief Justice of the J&K High Court be made its member by amending the Act.
Another programme was organised by J&K RTI Foundation and In-Minds Society at Municipal Committee Magam to celebrate and create awareness among masses about various provisions of the act. The event was celebrated in presence of Tehsildar Magam, Naib-Tehsildar Magam, Executive Officer and employees of Municipal Committee Magam, SHO Magam, Principal Higher Secondary Magam, Media friends, students and other senior citizens.
Chairman J&K RTI Foundation, Er. Irfan Banka, besides presenting a report on Eight years of J&K RTI Act 2009 in the State called upon the Government to effectively implement the proactive disclosures policy across all government offices in the State.
Chief Spokesperson J&K RTI Foundation, Sheikh Maqbool assured the students and other participants of full support related to any issue regarding J&K RTI Act.
On completion of 8 years of this historic law in the State , J&K RTI Movement urged the Government to restore RTI Rules 2010, which are considered to be the spirit of RTI Legislation -and these rules also focuses on the autonomy of State Information Commission. On the occasion of 8th anniversary of RTI law in J&K, we appeal the Government to make efforts to strengthen this institution.