Whither Revenue Department’s Central Record Rooms?

Records filing system may not be treated just an ordinary exercise . It needs proper planning, supervision, classification, storage and retrieval, periodic audits of safety and security to find out the physical matching of inventory and foolproof measures to save and keep saved, the records from floods and fires etc. The test of unfailing and efficacious manner of preserving documents lie how easily the same are traced out , retrieved and made available when required by a needy applicant. A piece of paper going to rest as a record might have taken months together in getting the form of a document , a certificate, a survey, a court order, a title deed, a settlement and what not. Any disorganised and a messy system will jeopardize the interests of an individual, a group of individuals, an institution, or even the state itself , the documents of whom may be lying in records . Preparing a duplicate one in case of a lost document, means involvement of factors like money, time, efforts and tension.
Having said so, it is a cause of concern that Revenue Department is found wanting in one more area of its expected role that of a proper system of preserving documents relating to Permanent Resident Certificates (PRCs) in its Central Record Rooms in a proper way . Traceability, in case of need, and retrieving the one from amongst many, very often, becomes difficult which in other words, means not only harassment to the concerned needy citizen but discomfiture and wasting of time on account of repeated visits to the concerned office. It also is tantamount to defeating the very purpose of establishment of such record rooms and also squandering of costs on maintaining them. Why should a needy citizen be told “Not traceable, visit again” by the employees concerned “working” in this Department ?
Again, the simple question should haunt those who take things quite casually knowing fully that their such approach , of course wilful , was not going to be questioned and their performance accordingly appraised . The Central Record Rooms have been established with intent to preserving and maintaining in good condition, all important records particularly relating to revenue matters and Permanent Resident Certificates. The reckless approach in the entire “scheme of things” came to light during proceedings before the State Information Commission (SIC) in a second appeal filed under the provisions of Jammu and Kashmir Right to Information Act which was disposed of with directions to the Commissioner / Secretary to the Government , Revenue Department to take such steps which would address the problem in order to provide relief to the needy people from harassment vis-a-vis those who helmed the affairs of the Central Record Rooms.
In this connection, there are more instances and the one mentioned herein, is symbolic of the performance of the CRRs of State Revenue Department which, otherwise should have maintained a well organised and planned manner of maintaining , tracing and retrieving of documents in an easy and infallible way . In the words of the Information Commissioner, Jammu and Kashmir was having the unique distinction of having the permanent residence features for its citizens and there were various special laws in the state which restricted the purchase of immovable property by persons who were not permanent residents of the state and employment under the State Government too was available only to permanent residents of the State, hence the importance of the PRCs.
The plea of turning back a needy citizen that old records were “not traceable” in the office record rooms means not only the concerned employee or employees were not bothered to put in a bit of more efforts in tracing the concerned document but speaks about the mess and the rut plaguing the system of stashing documents of such important nature in a careless way. The causes of such a mess and the rut need to be reversed urgently.