KIC wants State govt to strengthen RTI regime

 The Karnataka Information Commission (KIC) has recommended to the State government to take concrete steps to strengthen the Right To Information (RTI) regime in the State to achieve the aims, objectives and purposes of the epoch-making legislation.

In its seventh annual report for 2011-12, the latest one by the KIC, the commission has taken note of problems plaguing the RTI administration and made a number of recommendations to address them.

The major recommendation is making adequate budgetary provision for each department to deal with the increasing expenses. “The government should make sufficient budgetary allocations for every department for meeting the expenditure obligations by creating a minor head of account,’’ the report says.

Section 4(1)(a) of RTI Act mandates all public authorities to maintain their records duly catalogued, indexed and computerised to facilitate their easy availability. Similarly, Section 4(1)(b) of the Act requires them to make suo motu declarations. The commission has noted that a number of public authorities had not complied with these two provisions.

This has led to the commission being flooded with a number of complaints resulting in burden. KIC, therefore, has asked the government to closely monitor the compliance of the two sections and initiate appropriate, effective action against the defaulting public authorities.

In another major recommendation, the KIC has underlined the need for creating a public information officer-based website to tackle non-compliance with the two vital sections of the legislation. This arrangement will enable the government to monitor the departments on indexing records and files and suo motu declaration of information. There was also a dire need to update the information. With public authorities not doing this, the information seekers are often compelled to run from pillar to post, KIC remarked. The updated information should also be displayed on notice boards of the authorities.

The KIC has also recommended to issue elaborate instructions to all the first appellate authorities to speedily dispose of appeals to enable applicants receive information within a maximum period of 75 days. The other recommendations include: organising mass educational programmes to make the disadvantaged communities aware of the RTI Act; creation of RTI cells in major departments and include a chapter about RTI Act in the textbooks of higher secondary schools.

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