Now every minister's office in Rajasthan to have a PIO in month's time

Now every minister's office in Rajasthan to have a PIO in month's time
In a significant decision  Information Commission of Rajasthan has directed the state chief secretary appoint Public Information Officer (PIO)  in offices of all ministers within a month and ensure that information is provided under the Right to Information Act.

In the order that was passed last week, Rajasthan Information Commission has asked Chief Secretary to consider the offices of all the ministers in the state as a public authority. Rajasthan Information Commissioner Ashutosh Sharma passed an order directing the chief secretary to appoint state PIOs so that information could be provided under the RTI.

The Commission has also given the order of making the voluntary disclosure of the information under Section 4 (1) (B) of the Right to Information Act on the website of the Department and to update it in time. Stating the order as historic and claiming Rajasthan to be the first state to have PIOs in the offices of all ministers, Ashutosh Sharma, Information Commissioner told Deccan Herald, "In the order, I have clearly mentioned that the offices of ministers are a public authority and liable to answer under the RTI. It is strange that even PM's office and CM's office has PIO but state minister's office was lacking it. Now it will be easy for an appellant to seek an answer and will save his time. Otherwise, he or should have to get information via the respective department under that ministry."

The order was passed on the appeal of one Gaurishannkar Malu, who was denied information under the RTI Act by the rural development and Panchayati raj department as the information was related to the minister's office. Deciding on an appeal recently, the Commission also expressed surprise that there was no proper arrangement for providing information from offices of ministers.

Activist Nikhil Dey, best known for his struggles to legislate the RTI Act shared with DH, "Not having PIO in the minister's office was the biggest anomaly of the RTI since its birth. But it's good that after 12 years of its inception, Rajasthan government found the need to have a Public Information Officer in the office of the ministers."

The Right to Information Act came into force in India in October 2005 as the result of a nationwide movement led, among others, by Aruna Roy and Nikhil De of the National Campaign for People’s Right to Information (NCPRI). Rajasthan had played a large role in the RTI movement as the movement was born in the desert state.
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