Admn of both UTs asked to appoint CPIOs, furnish details
Stress laid on strict compliance to RTI Act provisions
JAMMU, May 2: In a major development, Central Information Commission (CIC) has decided to start taking up 2nd appeals and pending cases of Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and Union Territory of Ladakh for disposal as per the provisions of the Central Right to Information Act, 2005.
Moreover, the Commission has dashed a communication to the administration of both the Union Territories laying stress on taking steps for strict compliance to each and every provision of the Act in order to ensure utmost transparency in the functioning of all their departments.
Highly placed sources told EXCELSIOR that the Central Information Commission in its recent meeting held under the chairmanship- of Central Information Commissioner Bimal Julka had detailed deliberations on implementation of Central RTI Act in the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh in the light of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act passed by the Parliament in the month of August 2019.
It is pertinent to mention here that the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act, 2019 repealed the Jammu and Kashmir Right to Information Act, 2009 and made Central Act applicable to both the newly created Union Territories.
Though on numerous occasions it was officially announced that all the pending 2nd appeals will be transferred to the Central Information Commission following extension of its jurisdiction over both the UTs yet the whole exercise took several months much to the disappointment of information seekers, RTI activists and others.
Finally, the Central Information Commission has decided to shortly start taking up 2nd appeals and pending cases of Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and Union Territory of Ladakh for disposal as per the provisions of the Central Right to Information Act, 2005.
As per the sources, the Central Information Commission has written letter to the Chief Secretary of Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and Secretary of General Administration Department of Union Territory of Ladakh seeking list of Central Public Information Officers (CPIOs) so that hearings of 2nd appeals may be resumed by the Commission.
“Though following repeal of J&K Right to Information Act the Government of J&K UT started exercise of appointing Central Public Information Officers yet in majority of the departments/Public Offices the same are yet to be appointed/designated. Similarly, this exercise has not been completed in respect of all the departments/Public Offices in the Union Territory of Ladakh”, sources informed.
They further informed, “the CIC has already received around 200 fresh complaints and 2nd appeals from the applicants directly which are also pending because of the lack of details about the Central Public Information Officers”.
The Section 5(1) of the Central RTI Act, 2005 states: “Every public authority shall, within one hundred days of the enactment of this Act, designate as many officers as the Central Public Information Officers as the case may be, in all administrative units or offices under it as may be necessary to provide information to persons requesting for the information under this Act”.
Similarly, there is a provision for appointment of Central Assistant Public Information Officer, as the case may be, to receive the applications for information or appeals under this Act for forwarding the same forthwith to the Central Public Information Officer or senior officer specified under Sub-Section (1) of Section 19 or the Central Information Commission.
“The Central Information Commission has further directed the Joint Secretary (Admn) in the Commission that all the pending cases in respect of J&K and Ladakh UTs should be registered and transferred to the Information Commissioner D P Sinha for further necessary action”, sources informed.
They further said, “in the meeting the Commission had also decided to proactively engage with the administration of J&K and Ladakh UTs to address the concerns of citizens”, adding “through the formal letter the CIC has also asked the Government of both the UTs to to take steps for strict compliance to each and every provision of the Act to ensure utmost transparency in the functioning of all their departments”.
“To facilitate strict implementation of each and every provision of the Central RTI Act, the administration of both the UTs is required to give due publicity to the law and above all should make available the same on the websites of all the departments and public authorities for easy access by everybody”, sources stressed.