Governor N.N. Vohra inaugurated a one-day Seminar on Implementation of the J&K RTI Act, 2009 here today. This Seminar was organised by the J&K State Information Commission, an official spokesman said.
The spokesman said that emphasising the vital importance of the manner in which the “Right to Information” promotes transparent functioning and accountable governance, Governor observed that cleanliness in the functioning of public authorities strengthens trust between the government and people which is essential for sustaining democracy.
Governor stressed that the public authorities, besides responding to applications for information, should pro-actively disclose information, suo moto, by showing it on their websites. He noted that for the effective functioning of the statute considerable improvement needs to be brought about in the manner of maintenance of records in the public offices. Further, there needs to be a significant change in the mindset of the officials so that the traditional secrecy is replaced with openness and transparency, except in matters which need to remain undisclosed in the national interest.
Governor pointed to the importance of ensuring that all stakeholders are made aware of their rights and encouraged to make judicious use of the RTI Act to promote the larger public interest. He urged government institutions and public authorities to regularly place in the public domain the progress achieved in their developmental activities and about the utilization of funds allocated to them. He urged public programmes being held regularly to educate people about the various schemes and policies of the Union and the State Government departments and agencies.
Bimal Julka, Information Commissioner, Central Information Commission, New Delhi, said that transparency and accountability are the pillars of democracy and RTI Act is a step forward in empowering citizens to seek reliable information from the Government.
Khurshid Ahmed Ganai, Chief Information Commissioner, J&K, presented the progress report of the SIC through a power point presentation. He informed that 20,297 RTI requests were received by the Public Authorities during 2016-17 and 394 out of 488-second appeals were disposed of by the SIC in 2017-18 (ending February 2018); during the same period 52 complaints were received by the SIC out of which 8 have been disposed of.
B.B. Vyas, Chief Secretary, said that implementation of RTI Act is a moral duty of the government and suggested putting in place a framework for close coordination between Government departments and the State Information Commission for the timely flow of information and redressal of grievances under the Act.
Mohammad Ashraf Mir, State Information Commissioner, presented the Vote of Thanks on the occasion.
During the course of the seminar, many prominent individuals addressed the gathering and spoke on the importance and scope of RTI Act and role of RTI for good governance. These include Sh. Bimal Julka Information Commissioner, Central Information Commission, Sh. Ashok Bhan Former DGP, Sh. Mohammad Ashraf Mir, State Information Commissioner, Dr Sunita Zalpuri Prof. & Head Center for Good Governance & Administrative Reforms, JK IMPARD, Jammu, prominent Media persons including Pradeep Dutta, Bureau Chief Times Now, Anil Bhat Bureau Chief PTI, Tarun Upadhyay Online Editor Daily Excelsior, besides many prominent RTI activists.