With a view to giving teeth to the RTI Act in Jammu & Kashmir, the Central Information Commission has asked the chief minister to get it amended to bring it in conformity with the Central law.
"The chief minister of J&K would be well advised to bring an amendment to J&K RTI Act, 2004 bringing it in conformity with the (Union) RTI Act 2005," Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah said in a recent decision.
The CIC's suggestion came during the hearing of a RTI complaint filed by RC Pandita, a Jammu resident, who had earlier approached the President's Secretariat in July, last year, seeking certain information related to the state.
"We are constrained to observe that although J&K has a Right to Information Act of 2004, it is regrettable that citizens in that part of India are denied the benefits of the Union Act available to all their fellow citizens," the CIC remarked.
The Commission, during its hearing, expressed displeasure over the denial of a response to Pandita's RTI query, saying that the action mandated under the RTI Act had not been taken by the President's Secretariat.
It, however, refrained from imposing any penalty on the erring officials after the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) of the President's Secretariat pleaded that the delay was inadvertent and happened due to a clerical error.
"All that was required in this case was to inform Pandita that his letter addressed to the President had already been sent to the concerned state government of J&K," the CIC observed, while directing the CPIO to inquire into the delay and take action against the delinquent officials within 20 days.