RTI completes ten years in Kashmir

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Srinagar

As the present version of Right to Information Act (J&K RTI Act 2009) completes one decade of enactment in J&K state , the Jammu & Kashmir RTI Movement (RTIM) has accused the Government of violating the provisions of this act by not creating massive awareness and not making the voluntary disclosure of the information on official Government websites.

In a statement the Chairman of RTI Movement Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat said that Government is under legal obligation to undertake awareness about RTI Act in nook and corner of state, but during last 10 years not even 10 RTI awareness workshops have been held by the authorities for general public in far flung areas of state with the result very less number of people are using this law in state.

“Section 23 of J&K RTI Act 2009 directs the Government to conduct awareness camps, workshops and seminars for citizens towards understanding of this law. Special emphasis is given towards awareness of people from disadvantaged communities. In addition to it Government has to train its officials especially the Public Information Officers (PIOs) and sensitize them about the provisions of the law. When Government failed to do so JK RTI Movement was forced to file a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) before J&K High Court. The Court disposed off our PIL within a few months directing Government to create awareness and to make voluntary disclosure of information under section 4 and 23 of JK RTI Act 2009. But Government continues to violate the law and even the High Court orders are not respected, the spokesman quoted the Muzaffar as saying.

When the PIL on RTI implementation was filed , Government got exposed vis a vis conducting training RTI workshops for its citizens and designated officers. When details of such workshops was submitted before the Hon’ble High Court , it was shocking to know that mere two RTI workshops had  been conducted in 3 years (until Oct 2018) by the Government through Institute of Management Public Administration & Rural Development (IMPARD) . During these two workshops mere 42 officers had been trained. For the kind information of Hon’ble Governor from 2011 to 2013 more than 75 such RTI workshops were conducted by IMPARD wherein more than 2500 officers were trained. Now Govt is not even training its own officials , said Dr Mushtaq Khan General Secretary of RTI Movement

Government is not only defeating the institution of RTI but it is withholding Freedom of Press as well by gagging the freedom of expression and speech. Creating a pressure on local press by way of stopping Government advertisements to Greater Kashmir and Kashmir Reader is nothing but a pressure tactic to stop flow of information. Even after 10 years of RTI regime in J&K, if the institution of RTI has not flourished, it indicates something is wrong somewhere, he added.

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