Information Act: So far, so good
Implementation of the Right to Information Act of the Centre in Delhi from October 12 last year has been a success story. For the first time, the entire complaints, their status and all details pertaining to the Act have been put online by the Delhi government. Secretary Administrative Reforms, Prakash Kumar tells Amitabh Shukla that a silent revolution has taken place.india Updated: Feb 18, 2006 19:44 IST
Implementation of the Right to Information Act of the Centre in Delhi from October 12 last year has been a success story. For the first time, the entire complaints, their status and all details pertaining to the Act have been put online by the Delhi government. Complainants can now pursue their applications online and find out whether it has been disposed or not. Entire questions put to the various departments can be accessed and it has been made "live" on the website. Secretary Administrative Reforms, Prakash Kumar tells Amitabh Shukla that a silent revolution has taken place.
What has been the response of the new Right to Information Act in the city?
In the last four months of the implementation of the Act, the response has been tremendous as we have got 1200 applications of people seeking different sorts of information concerning various departments. This shows that the citizens are coming forward to ask questions from the government departments. As we have put everything on the website, people seeking information never had it easier. All the questions posed so far and the answers have been put on the "live" web page. The status of application changes every minute after information is uploaded. People can search for the departments and the frequently asked questions and frame their questions accordingly. At present, two Acts pertaining to Right to Information are applicable in Delhi - both the Central Act and the state government Act.
Isn't there any confusion on this part?
Both the acts are applicable to the city as the Act of Delhi is yet to be repealed. However, there is no confusion. People can ask questions under whichever of the two acts. While the fee under the Delhi Act is Rs 25 for a question, the fee under the central Act is only Rs 10. The public information officers have been asked to provide information as per the demand of the citizens. Some questions still are being asked under the old Act. What is the status of the private power distribution companies in the city.
Do they come under the purview of the RTI Act?
We had asked the opinion of the Law Department on the subject. As the government has only 49 percent of the share in the discoms, it does not fall under the category of substantially financed as provided in the Act. Then, there is a provision of substantially controlled. But, it does not come under this category too. At present, the citizens can ask questions through the Power department but this might not cover day to day supply of power. Recently, the Central Information Commission ruled that file notings should also be made available to the people if asked for.
Yes, we are providing the information on file notings now. Earlier, there was some ambiguity but after the ruling of the central information commission, it has been made clear to the public information officers. You have now authored a book on Right to Information.
What is the target audience of the book?
I wrote the book along with another official Dr K.B. Rai. It targets public information officers who are supposed to provide information.