RTI Act- delay in passing information


The mindset of taking the provisions of the RTI Act casually despite learning that many officers who as and when erred due to whatever reasons had to face the consequences, still persists in the UT of Jammu and Kashmir. That, again due to causing delay in furnishing information to an applicant, Central Information Commission (CIC) passing strictures against a Deputy Commissioner and Assistant Commissioner Revenue denotes not only the quantum of seriousness accorded to the Right to Information but how much important it is to avoid such conditions which make room for such eventualities to take place. At least, the authorities of the level of Deputy Commissioner should normally never give room for the CIC passing strictures and thus even causing embarrassment to the Government as well for not arranging furnishing of information well in time. Whenever a lapse takes place in respect of the nature as herein referred to, we have been underlining the importance of the very purpose and the aim of the RTI Act and that the concerned authorities and the designated officers needed to get themselves adequately acquainted with the entire gamut of the RTI. In fact, there should be no problem with the General administration Department even in conducting workshops of a day or at best two, wherein the entire concept, the details of the Act and its various provisions could be discussed with the UT officers, departmental heads, Secretaries and other concerned officers so as to avoid embarrassments faced by the Government as in the instant case . Instead of a total declining trend of violation of the provisions of the Act by way of causing inordinate delay in furnishing information, the trend shows a consistency of occurrences. Not only have strictures been passed against the two bureaucrats but initiating of penal action against them has been conveyed in case replies to RTI applications were not provided within the stipulated time period. An applicant having sought information on 16 points through an application filed before the Chairman District Disaster Management Authority (Deputy Commissioner) Kulgam Kashmir in respect of the funds allocated as also released to fight COVID-19 pandemic under DDMA. The information was sought in respect of various items where the funds were supposed to have been allocated, released and even donations received from various organisations. While the applicant had sought information in late June 2020, till September the same was not given whereupon the first appeal filed too remained unheard compelling the applicant to approach the CIC. Though information was provided only in October 2020 which the applicant acknowledged, however, since a delay was caused in furnishing information which normally should have been given within 30 days of receipt of the application, the CIC took a serious note with a caution to furnish the information within the stipulated time. In the same manner, another violation of the provision of the RTI Act took place which also reached the CIC in respect of seeking information from the Assistant Commissioner (Revenue) Budgam Kashmir regarding mutations attested by two Tehsildars pertaining to landless people relating to the year 1955. The information was not provided to the applicant even after the first appeal. The pleas taken by the Assistant Commissioner Revenue about filing of the application not before the concerned authority in contravention of the Rule 6 (b) could not convince the CIC who observed that the application was handled quite casually and not ”bothered” to provide the information even after a period of one year of the filing of the application. What needs to be ensured is that at no basis whatsoever was any delay caused in furnishing information to an applicant in order to avoid passing of strictures and possibly penal action against the erring officials by the CIC. Qualifying for