This is a prime example of an Act being so just for the sake of it. Undermining the provisions of the Public Records Act (PRA) 1993, of the nearly 2,000 organisations including government ministries, departments, PSUs, attached and subordinate offices, only about 6% respond to the National Archives of India's (NAI) request for transferring of official records.
"It is a total mockery of the PRA. Just 6% is an improvement from about 3% the previous year. It shows how serious these organisations are in implementing the law," said an NAI official who did not want to be identified.
Enacted amid much fanfare in 1993, the Public Records Act mandates the NAI to regulate the management, administration and preservation of public records of the Central government, Union Territories, public sector undertakings, statutory bodies and corporations, commissions and committees.
"This has resulted in a feeling that PRA has to be given 'more teeth' in form of a regulatory mechanism for effective monitoring and also so that records-creating agencies take the PRA and the NAI more seriously. At present, the feeling is that it is just a nuisance despite the legal backing," said the official.
A consultative committee on the review of the PRA has already recommended more regulatory powers.
The committee has also sought a reduction in the period for declassification and transfer of public records to 20 years.
It is commonly understood that the PRA has become all the more important role in view of the enactment of the Right to Information Act. "There is an urgent need to harmonise the PRA provisions with the RTI Act," the official added.