Skip to main content

Proactive disclosure of information under the J&K RTI Act remains poor

By Venkatesh Nayak*
The J&K Right to Information Act (J&K RTI Act) entered its 9th year of implementation on March 20, 2017. A Rapid Study of the official websites of 230 public authorities under the J&K Government conducted by J&K RTI Movement and CHRI reveals that compliance with the requirement of proactive disclosure of information under Section 4(1)(b) of the J&K RTI Act remains poor. Key findings from this Rapid Study are given below. J&K RTI Movement and CHRI are discussing these findings in order to identify practical recommendations for improving compliance with Section 4(1)(b) of the J&K RTI Act, today (20 March, 2017) at the Institute of Management, Public Administration and Rural Development (IMPA), Srinagar.

What is proactive information disclosure under Section 4 of the J&K RTI Act?

Section 4(1)(b) of the J&K RTI Act makes it compulsory for all public authorities to place a wealth of information in the public domain. This includes detailed information about their organization and functions, powers and duties of their officials, rules, regulations, norms and manuals that must guide their work, details of decision-making processes, budgets and expenditure, subsidiary programmes implemented, authorisations and permits issued and a list of all records held in paper or electronic form.
Additionally, every public authority is required to publicise relevant facts about all important policy matters or decisions it takes, from time to time. Every person who is affected by any decision of a public authority has the right to be informed of the reasons behind such decisions. Section 4(2) of the J&K RTI Act explains that the purpose of proactively disclosing all this information is to reduce people’s need to seek information by filing formal RTI applications. A deeper examination of the scheme of the J&K RTI Act indicates that proactive disclosure of information is prioritized over reactive disclosure i.e., supplying information against formal RTI applications.

Key findings from the Rapid Study conducted by J&KRTI Movement and CHRI

Key findings from a rapid study of the official websites of the two Divisional Commissioners, the administration of 22 districts and 206 departments, autonomous bodies and other public authorities are as follows:
  • The DivComs and all districts have official websites. 59% of the districts have not uploaded Section 4(1)(b) information to a reasonable degree of compliance on their official websites. They are either incomplete or not published at all.
  • 3/4ths of the district websites do not display any information about their annual budgets. Only the district administration of Bandipora and Budgam have displayed the latest budget-related information for 2016-17.
  • The Kargil district website is the best of all district websites included in this Rapid Study. Detailed information about the working of the Deputy Commissioner’s office and other departments in the district has been published in compliance with the J&K RTI Act. Udhampur seems to be the only district administration to display the physical verification reports of the developmental projects undertaken under various developmental programmes up to 2016.
  • Some districts have nevertheless taken innovative steps to display other categories of information proactively. Doda district website displays property statements of the officials of the DC’s office, and the Tahsildars and the total number of various types of ration cards issued by the administration, Tahsil-wise. Websites of Samba, Rajouri and Pulwama display the number of complaints received under the J&K Public Services Grievances Act, 2011. However this information is also not regularly updated.
  • More than 15% of the remaining 209 public authorities (other than DivComs and District Administration) in J&K covered by the study do not have websites. As many as 4 out of every 10 of the 177 public authorities with official websites do not display any information required to be proactively disclosed under Section 4(1)(b) of the J&K RTI Act. Compliance is only 57.62%.
  • 2% (32) of the public authorities have not displayed any details regarding the PIOs and FAAs designated by them for dealing with RTI applications and first appeals.
  • More than 3/4ths (138) of the public authorities with websites have not displayed budget-related information. Only two public authorities have displayed budget related information for the latest year i.e., 2017-18 (namely, Finance Dept. and the Directorate of Audit and Inspections). Six of the remaining public authorities have displayed budget related information for the year 2016-17 (namely, the Directorates of Horticulture and Animal Husbandry, the J&K Legislative Assembly, the J&K Legislative Council, IMPA and Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology).
  • Under the section relating to budget and expenditure, the website of the Chief Minister’s Secretariatstates as follows: “Chief Minister’s Secretariat does not have budget allocation for any programme nor it has any agency under its direct control.”
  • However, the budget document uploaded on the website of the Finance Department displays the following sums of money allocated to the Council of Ministers and the CM’s Secretariat in 2017-18: (1) Council of Ministers (Voted): Rs. 752.80 lakhs; (2) CM’s Secretariat- GAD: Salary, travel expenses, Medical reimbursement grant- Rs. 54.80 lakhs; and (3) CM’ Secretariat- GAD: Secret Services expenses: Rs. 1,500 lakhs.The budget-related section of the RTI Handbook (Manual) of the Governor’s office (Raj Bhawan) has not been updated after 2014-15.
The website of the J&K General Administration Department– the nodal department for implementing the J&K RTI Act, has not been updated for budget-related information after 2016.
This Rapid Study is an outcome of the Internship Programme that CHRI hosted at its New Delhi office for Adv. (Ms.) Syed Iram Quadri and Adv. Bilal Ahmed Bhat, members, J&K RTI Movement (J&K RTI Movement) and the School for Rural Development and Environment (SRDE), from 01-28 February, 2017. CHRI and J&K RTI Movement have compiled this preliminary report.

*Programme Coordinator, Access to Information Programme, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, New Delhi

Comments

TRENDING

Only 15% businesses provide employees real-time sustainability dashboards: Study

Kyndryl in collaboration with Microsoft has released the findings of The Global Sustainability Barometer study. The study, conducted by Ecosystm, finds that while 85% of organizations place a high strategic level of importance on achieving their sustainability goals, only 16% have integrated sustainability into their strategies and data. A Kyndryl note: *** Kyndryl (NYSE: KD), the world’s largest IT infrastructure services provider, in collaboration with Microsoft , today released the findings of The Global Sustainability Barometer study. The study, conducted by Ecosystm , finds that while 85% of organizations place a high strategic level of importance on achieving their sustainability goals, only 16% have integrated sustainability into their strategies and data.

देशव्यापी ग्रामीण भारत बंध में उतरे मध्य प्रदेश के आदिवासी, किया केंद्र सरकार का विरोध

हरसिंग जमरे, भिखला सोलंकी, रतन अलावे द्वारा* 15 और 16 फरवरी को निमाड के बड़वानी, खरगोन और बुरहानपुर में जागृत आदिवासी दलित संगठन के नेतृत्व में आदिवासी महिला-पुरुषों ग्रामीण भारत बंद में रैली एवं विरोध प्रदर्शन किया । प्रधान मंत्री द्वारा 2014 में फसलों की लागत का डेढ़ गुना भाव देने का वादा किया गया था, 2016 में किसानों की आय दुगना करने का वादा किया गया था । आज, फसलों का दाम नहीं बढ़ रहा है, लेकिन खेती में खर्च बढ़ता जा रहा है! खाद, बीज और दवाइयों का दाम, तीन-चार गुना बढ़ चुका है! किसानों को लागत का डेढ़ गुना भाव देने के बजाए, खेती को कंपनियों के हवाले करने के लिए 3 काले कृषि कानून लाए गए । 3 काले कानून वापस लेते समय प्रधान मंत्री ने फिर वादा किया था कि फसलों की लागत का डेढ़ गुना भाव की कानूनी गारंटी के लिए कानून बनाएँगे, लेकिन वो भी झूठ निकला! आज जब देश के किसान दिल्ली में आपको अपना वादा याद दिलाने आए है, तब आप उनका रास्ता रोक रहें है, उनके साथ मारपीट कर उन पर आँसू गैस फेंक रहें हैं, उन पर छर्रों से फायरिंग कर रहें है! देश को खिलाने वाला किसान खुद भूखा रहे, क्या यही विकास है?

How the slogan Jai Bhim gained momentum as movement of popularity and revolution

By Dr Kapilendra Das*  India is an incomprehensible plural country loaded with diversities of religions, castes, cultures, languages, dialects, tribes, societies, costumes, etc. The Indians have good manners/etiquette (decent social conduct, gesture, courtesy, politeness) that build healthy relationships and take them ahead to life. In many parts of India, in many situations, and on formal occasions, it is common for people of India to express and exchange respect, greetings, and salutation for which we people usually use words and phrases like- Namaskar, Namaste, Pranam, Ram Ram, Jai Ram ji, Jai Sriram, Good morning, shubha sakal, Radhe Radhe, Jai Bajarangabali, Jai Gopal, Jai Jai, Supravat, Good night, Shuvaratri, Jai Bhole, Salaam walekam, Walekam salaam, Radhaswami, Namo Buddhaya, Jai Bhim, Hello, and so on.

Tamil Nadu brahmins are at cross roads, their future scenario remains uncertain

By NS Venkataraman*  For over 70 years now, brahmin community in Tamil Nadu have been abused, insulted and even physically attacked on some occasions by those who claimed that they were part of the so called dravidian movement. However, brahmin community silently and helplessly ducked under pressure and showed no signs of resistance or fight back.

Laxmanpur Bathe massacre: Perfect example of proto-fascist Brahmanical social order

By Harsh Thakor  The massacre at Laxmanpur-Bathe of Jehanabad in Bihar on the night of 1 December in 1997 was a landmark event with distinguishing features .The genocide rightly shook the conscience of the nation in the 50th year of Indian independence. The scale of the carnage was unparalleled in any caste massacre. It was a perfect manifestation of how in essence the so called neo-liberal state was in essence most autocratic. 

How Mahakavi Sri Sri defined political and cultural metamorphosis of Telugu society

By Harsh Thakor  Srirangam Srinivasarao, popularly known as Sri Sri, or called Mahakavi (The Great Poet), held a reputation like no other Telugu poet. Today, on June 15th, we commemorate his 40th death anniversary. Sri Sri transcended heights in revolutionary creativity or exploration, unparalleled, in Telegu poetry, giving it a new dimension. His poems projected the theme or plight of the oppressed people at a scale, rarely penetrated by poets, giving revolutionary poetry it’s soul.

1982-83 Bombay textile strike played major role in shaping working class movement

By Harsh Thakor  On January 18th, 1982 the working class movement commemorated the 40th anniversary of the Textile Workers Strike that lasted for 18 months, till July 1983. It was landmark event that played a major role in shaping the working class movement. With more than 2.5 lakh workers from 65 textile mills joining in this strike for almost two years, this strike became one of the most significant strikes in terms of scale and duration All democrats should applaud the mill workers’ united battle, and their unflinching resilience an death defying courage continues to serve as a model for contemporary working-class movements. Many middle class persons harboured opinions that the Textile workers were pampered or were a labour aristocracy, ignorant of how they were denied wages to provide for basic necessities. The Great Bombay Textile Strike is notably one of the most defining movements in the working class struggles in Post-independent India. Bombay’s textile industry flourished in

India may be fastest growing economy, but it is one of the most unequal countries

By Vikas Parasram Meshram  The economic disparity gap continues to widen with economic disparity.  A large portion of the population is dispossessed, while the poor continue to get poorer. They struggle to earn a minimum wage and access quality education and health care, suffering disinvestment from persistently low incomes. These widening gaps and growing inequalities have the greatest impact on women and children.  The Oxfam International report is known to have expressed concern that, on the one hand, the wealth of some people in the world is increasing at a rocket speed.  And the number of rich people is constantly increasing. As a result, the income of the common man is increasing very little, while the wealth of the rich class has increased manifold.  Not only in India but in many other countries of the world, the gap of economic inequality is continuously widening. Oxfam International in its annual report on economic inequality at the World Economic Forum meeting last month, sai

Adapting to edge: Urban and coastal climate resilience - fostering collaborative alliances

By Enid Dsouza  Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH) India hosted a workshop on ‘Adapting to the Edge: Urban and Coastal Climate Resilience’ as part of the Climate Action Workshop Series in New Delhi. The workshop brought together experts, practitioners, government bodies, CSR leaders to initiate dialogues on fostering nature-based solutions for a climate-resilient future.

Israel's merciless bombing of Rafah faced huge protests across the globe

By Harsh Thakor*  With the numbers of the murdered in Gaza surpassing 28,000 people, Israel mercilessly conducted bombing to prepare for a genocidal attack on the displaced people in Rafah. Peoples of the world keep rose up like a spark turning into a prairie fire.