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HindustanTimes Wed,16 Apr 2014

8 years on, RTI Act awaits proper implementation

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  Shimla, November 17, 2013
First Published: 18:31 IST(17/11/2013) | Last Updated: 18:32 IST(17/11/2013)

At a time when Right to Information Act has become an important tool to seek information, government departments have failed to implement section 4 of act that was aimed at providing suo moto information on websites.

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Section 4 of the RTI Act was a commitment to ensure that information is put before the public at regular intervals through various means of communications, including internet, so that the public need not formally apply for obtaining information.

It was mandatory to ensure implementation of section 4 within 120 days. Section 4 of the RTI Act is  main character of entire  law. “This ensures transparency with accountability in government functioning,” said chief information commissioner Bhim Sen, adding that even after 8 years, it was still waiting for proper implementation.

The Act had been enforced for more than eight years and it was enough time for concerned officials to get familiarised with it, added Sen.

Some of the departments of the state had not updated required information on any type of media. “As per the law, 17 categories of information have been listed under section 4-b,” he added.

Apart from basic information, this section enabled commoners with right to seek information about functioning of the government departments. He said the commission could not take suo moto action against departments who had not disclosed information, until receiving any complaint. “If we will receive any complaint regarding flaying section 4, penal action will be taken by the commission,” said Sen. “This leads to delay in providing information under the RTI Act, and to avoid delay, proper maintenance of records is ensured in the law,” he said, adding that most public authorities had failed to make pro-active disclosures on their websites as required under Section 4 of the Act.

Department of administrative reform (AR) had issued a letter to all heads of the departments to ensure implementation of section 4 on November 1.

Additional chief secretary (AR) Ajay Mittal said there were few departments who had not published required information. “According to the assessment of AR department 5-7 departments have not published information required under section 4 of the RTI Act,” said Mittal.

This notice was served after a letter issued by state information commission relating to implementation of section 4 of RTI act.

Section 4 of RTI Act

As per law, it shall be a constant endeavour of every public authority to provide as much information suo moto to the public at regular intervals through various means of communications, including internet, so that the public have minimum resort to the use of this Act to obtain information.

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