UT's not RTI-friendly | chandigarh | Hindustan Times
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UT's not RTI-friendly

chandigarh Updated: Jun 24, 2013 23:42 IST
Vinod Kumar
Vinod Kumar
Hindustan Times
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The UT administration's seriousness in implementing the Right to Information Act (RTI) can be measured from the fact that it has not yet appointed transparency officers (TO), despite directions by the Central Information Commission (CIC) in 2010.

For promotion of institutional transparency within public authorities, the CIC had directed all public authorities to appoint senior officials as transparency officers for acting as a bridge between public authorities, people and the commission.

The duties of a transparency officer include regular monitoring of the decisions of the CIC, to act as a contact point for central public information officers (CPIO) and divisional heads in respect of all RTI-related matters, and to constantly stay in touch with the top management of a public authority about the strategy and action required to promote transparency within the organisation.

Contacted, UT adviser KK Sharma said they will take up the issue. However, UT additional secretary (home and personnel) Prerna Puri was not available for comment despite repeated attempts. Earlier, departments of the UT administration have been accused of deliberately concealing and delaying information sought under RTI.

Due to high awareness amongst city residents, there has been a steep increase in applications received by the administration under the RTI Act in the past few years.

In 2012, 12,954 RTI applications were filed, while the figure for 2011 was 11,031.

UT estate office, police and the municipal corporation received the highest number of applications. The administration has generated over Rs 4 lakh by way of charging processing fee.

Criticising the UT, city-based RTI activist RK Garg said that CPIO's concerned had found ways to deliberately delay or not provide information under RTI. “Departments have learnt convenient ways of throttling the RTI Act by stonewalling the information,” he said.

Giving examples, Garg maintained that he had sought information from the malaria control wing in November 2012, and the health department and the municipal corporation in April 2013, but is yet to get a reply. He alleged that in one of the cases, the police department had refused to give information pertaining to police welfare society despite orders from the appellate authority.

He said the appointment of transparency officers would go a long way in the effective implementation of the RTI Act and bring more transparency in the functioning of government departments.

Role of transparency officer

1) To set up facilitation centres within the premises of public authorities
2) To act as a bridge between public authorities, people and the Central Information Commission
3) Digitalisation of documents and records
4) Oversee and help implement functions laid down under section 4(1) (a) and 4 (1) of the RTI Act
5) Responsible for operating a user-friendly website for information related to the public authority concerned