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State-level panel to streamline RTI regime

Srinivas Sirnoorkar, GULBARGA, Dec 4, 2012, DHNS : 23:43 IST
The government has constituted a state-level committee (SLC), headed by additional chief secretary, to strengthen, streamline and periodically review the Right to Information (RTI) regime.

The government has taken such a measure following a large number of complaints from the stakeholders over “improper and ineffective” implementation of the RTI Act.

Principal Secretary, department of Personnel and Administrative Reforms, will be the convener of the SLC, while principal secretaries/secretaries of departments concerned, heads of departments, boards, corporations, authorities, will be its members.

The committee will meet at least once in two months and review the general functioning of the RTI regime, including applications received, their disposal, pendency and the reasons for pendency; review the functions and responsibilities of the appellate authorities and ensure that all the public authorities make suo motu declaration of basic information for public knowledge.

The committee will review implementation of RTI Act; scientific handling of files through computerisation; implementation of the Karnataka Public Records Act.
It will also review information posted on the websites of public authorities and see to it that the information is updated evey year before October 30 and, made available for people.

The SLC will also review whether the first appellate authorities are conducting hearings and disposing the appeals in time; parting with information within the required time and the reasons for not furnishing the information within the specified time.

It will also look into any other issues, problems and proposals relating to the implementation of the RTI Act and, place them before the high-level committee constituted in this regard under the chairmanship of the chief secretary to the state government.

The Karnataka Information Commission has made some adverse remarks on public information officers of public authorities and appellate authorities for their inept handling of the applications filed by members of public.

Besides, the government has noticed that even seven years after the implementation of the RTI Act, many public authorities have not yet made suo motu disclosure as required under the Section 4(1) (a) and 4(1) (b) on their functioning. They have not placed the basic information about holding of files, nature of their disposal and related information on the public domain through their websites.

This has forced RTI users to approach the authorities, seeking information.They have complained of the difficulties they are facing in getting information. Several NGOs, organisations and activists have filed complaints in this regard.

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