Women's Commission yet to comply with RTI norms

Central Information Commission warns of imposing a penalty


 The Commission has not cared to incorporate the mandatory provisions and spirit of the RTI Act in its functioning, though it was required to do the same within 120 days of the notification of the Act. It has still been dodging applicants who have sought information from it.

The recalcitrant attitude of the NCW has come under fire from the Central Information Commission (CIC) which has taken strong exception to the NCW for sitting endlessly on the applications. A classic case is that the NCW has simply refused to part with any information, even after an applicant from the far-off Gulbarga approached the appellate authority.

Finally the NCW had to be brought to heel by the CIC.

The NCW delivered information a full nine months after receiving the application, although the Right to Information Act mandates the public authority to furnish information within 30 days.

Application

Rehena Begum, principal of BEd College here, had filed an application before the NCW on 16 September 2008, seeking information (among others) on its suo motu declaration of its functioning as per section 4 (1) (b) of the RTI Act,  action plan, if any in the matter of overall development of women and their empowerment, status report, and data-based survey with regard to protection of women from domestic violence in the country, any plan to combat the sufferings of women, etc.

On not receiving any information or reply from the National Commission for Women, Rehena Begum filed an appeal with the Appellate Authority of the NCW on 29 November 2008.  She got no reprieve.

Left with no alternative, she filed a complaint with the Central Information Commission. The CIC took up the complaint in right earnest, and came down heavily on the NCW for not responding to applicants.

Information delayed

“The NCW is in the habit of delaying information, and also not responding at all to RTI requests even though the CIC has already drawn the attention of the NCW on the issue. The CIC reiterates that there is an urgent need for streamlining the functioning of the NCW and putting in place an effective alternative mechanism,’’ Information Commissioner Annapurna Dixit observed in her order.

The CIC directed the NCW to provide the information sought by the applicant, within 20 days. It also threatened the NCW with inviting the penalty provision if information was not furnished forthwith.

Following the order, the NCW furnished the information on 29 May 2009, and was received by the applicant in late June. In its reply, the NCW has admitted that it was yet to implement the provisions of the RTI Act. “Section 4 (1) (b) of the RTI Act has not been implemented, as yet and the NCW is likely to implement the same by August 2009,’’ NCW Public Information Officer Yogesh Mehta said in his reply.

The National Commission for Women has provided the other information sought by the applicant, albeit under the compulsion of the Central Information Commission.

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