Whither Right To Information, Activists Protest

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SRINAGAR: Jammu and Kashmir RTI Movement has demanded that State Information Commission (SIC) be constituted in Jammu and Kashmir as RTI appellants were facing immense difficulties in filing second appeals under RTI Act 2005 before Central Information Commission (CIC) New Delhi

RTI activists led by Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat protesting over the systemic denial to information under the universal right to information. They were on a symbolic protest on September 28, 2020. Pic: Special arrangement

Activists of the RTI Movement assembled in the City centre Srinagar on Monday. Chairman RTI Movement Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat told media persons that after applicability of Central RTI Act 2005 in J&K people were feeling disempowered as there is no appeal mechanism available in J&K and people have to file an appeal in New Delhi which is a hectic task especially for illiterate people and disadvantaged communities.

“After extending RTI Act 2005 to J&K, we got deprived of the State Information Commission (SIC) like many other commissions, as Union Territories (UT’s) are not entitled to have a separate Information Commission. 2nd appeals under the RTI Act 2005 are now filed before the Central Information Commission (CIC) New Delhi. All the pending appeals in J&K State Information Commission (JKSIC) have been transferred to CIC New Delhi, but in the last 1 year, not even a single appeal filed by members of RTI Movement members has been listed for hearing, this was not the case in past?  Aggrieved would get justice from JKSIC within a few months only as the state commission was supposed to dispose of RTI appeals within 60 to 120 days only ” said Dr Raja Muzaffar while speaking to press reporters

Muzaffar said that the 2015 Modi Government launched Digital India campaign with an aim to ensure the Government’s services are made available to citizens electronically by improving online infrastructure. “During the last 6 months, people have had less access to Government offices in view of Covid19 pandemic. This was the best time to receive RTI applications through electronic mode and provide reply through email, but the J & K Government has miserably failed to create an effective digital interface vis a vis Right to Information Act (RTI)” he added

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