Madhya Pradesh government departments appear to be least bothered about opening up on details of its functioning, schemes and administrative set-up, as required under the proactive disclosure rule of the Right to Information (RTI) Act, a web research conducted by a local law student has found.
The analytical study has found that out of 54 state government departments that have individual websites, only three are updated in accordance with the proactive disclosure rule under section 4 of the RTI Act. One other department was found fairly up to date, while two more were updated recently, the study shows.
Under section 4 of the act, government departments have to voluntarily disclose information on 17 points, including function and activities of the departments, schemes run, powers and duties of officers and employees, details of rules, regulations, instructions, manuals and records of the department, details of the public information officer and appellate authority, budget allocated to related agencies and so on.
The analysis was done by Aman Sharma, a third semester BBA-LLB student of Bhopal-based National Law Institute University (NLIU) — one of the top national-level law institutes of the country. The study was conducted as part of his internship with NGO Prayatna that works extensively to promote RTI.
“It was an interesting experience analysing RTI-related data on government websites. It is in hope that things would improve in the future,” Sharma said.
Sharma mentioned in his study report that he found that apart from being not up to date, most of the government websites were running slow due to heavy traffic and the webpages were ill-designed.
“The information on most websites was outdated, some of them had invalid links and a few had basic errors like that of fonts,” the study said.
Secretary of Prayatna and RTI activist, Ajay Dubey said he was aware of the failure of government departments with regard to proactive disclosures, but the web research has reinforced that point.
“The departments should understand that proactive disclosure would help their own cause as it would reduce basic queries through RTI,” he said.
The state chief information commissioner KD Khan said proactive disclosure was an important clause and government departments should follow it sincerely.
“We recently held a meeting at the State Information Commission, following which we have written to the chief secretary urging him to get the government departments to implement provisions of section 4 of RTI,” Khan said.
Up to date departments
(Section 4 of RTI, proactive disclosure)
Comparatively recent update
Commerce, industry and employment (till April 2013)
Farmers’ welfare and agriculture (till September 2014)