In a significant order, the State Information Commission (SIC) has directed the Madhya Pradesh chief secretary to ensure that all the NGOs getting government grants of over Rs 50,000 are brought under the Right to Information (RTI) ambit.
Also, the government departments that provide grants to NGOs should voluntarily disclose the details related to them on their websites according to provisions of the RTI Act, the SIC order mentions.
All districts barring those in Jabalpur division would be covered under the order.
The order was issued on Thursday by state’s chief information commissioner (CIC) KD Khan while hearing a bunch of complaints filed by RTI applicant Ajay Dubey.
The complainant alleged that despite clear directives of the state government in 2009 and the Union government’s guidelines issued in 2007 and 2013, the aided NGOs in the state were not implementing RTI provisions.
According to the RTI Act, the aided NGOs have to appoint public information officer, appellate authority and make proactive disclosure on various important points including utility of funds on their websites.
The government departments providing funds are also supposed to disclose details related to such NGOs on their websites and on other public platforms, the complaints mentioned.
In October last year, while hearing the complaints, the CIC had issued notice to the state general administration department (GAD) department - the nodal department for RTI implementation.
The GAD public information officer, in his reply to the SIC (in January this year) had said that the nature of complaint was generalised and no specific instance of any refusal to adhere to RTI norms by NGOs was presented by the complainant.
Dubey, however, argued that according to section 26 of RTI Act, the state government is bound to keep the details of the public authorities (including aided NGOs) in the state, but the RTI cell of state GAD did not have any details.
After considering both the sides, during the hearing on Thursday, CIC Khan held that according to provisions of section 4 of RTI, public authorities were bound to proactively disclose information on public domain including their websites.
However failure to adhere to this norm forced citizens to file applications and complaints to seek related information.
"This wastes time and money of citizens as well as government and thus state government should make maximum efforts towards ensuring proactive disclosure by public authorities," the CIC said in his order.