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news details
Omar's duplicity: First weakens RTI rules
Now talks of bringing political parties under RTI
9/5/2013 12:42:52 AM
Early Times Report
Srinagar, Sept 4: Only a year back the Chief Minister Omar Abdullah amended J&K RTI Rules 2010 and turned the State Information Commission (SIC) into a "lame duck " and now he talks of bringing political parties under the provisions of RTI Act.
Last year in the month of September J&K Government made amendments in the J&K Right to Information Rules of 2010 which lead to severe criticism not only from the RTI activists but also from cross section of the society including political parties , civil society and media. The former Chief Information Commissioner of Central Information Commission ,Wajahat Habibullah and the incumbent CIC G R Sufi criticized that move of the Government to amend the RTI rules .
Now after exactly one year since the JK RTI Rules were weakened, Omar Abdullah talks of bringing political parties under the purview of RTI seems to be a ridiculous statement. It is the habit of National Conference to speak one language in J&K and other in New Delhi?
The political observers and RTI activists feel that if Omar really means what he said at National RTI convention in New Delhi then he must first publicly declare that National Conference is a " Public Authority " and people must seek information from this party under J&K RTI Act 2009 .
Senior RTI Activist and Founder of J&K RTI Movement Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat said that "If Chief Minister asks his party leaders to declare NC a public authority and start designating PIO's at various district offices and at provincial level , then it may be seen as a positive development , but if he doesn't do that then it will be another big joke. " If Omar Abdullah really means what he said then who is stopping him to declare National Conference as a Public Authority," Dr Muzaffar added Pertinent to mention that J&K RTI Rules 2010 entrusted various powers to the State Information Commission (SIC) and all these rules have been changed now . The SIC had power to issue warrants and summons against the top officials upto the rank of Chief Secretary but that is not possible now under new JK RTI Rules of 2012.
Under the Rule 44 of erstwhile J&K RTI Rules 2010 SIC had following powers which have been all washed off now by the Omar Abdullah lead Government when the RTI rules were amended last year
(1) In order to discharge its obligation under sub-section (5) of section 22, the Commission shall make an annual roster for appearance of public authorities.
(2) The public authority shall be represented before the Commission in this regard by such senior level functionary of the public authority as may be desired by the Commission.
(3) The public authority shall be responsible for adducing evidence that the practice of the public authority in relation to the exercise of its functions under the Act in general and section 4 in particular conforms to the provisions and spirit of the Act.
(4) If it appears to the Commission on the basis of above proceedings or otherwise that the practice of a public authority in relation to the exercise of its functions under the Act does not conform with the provisions and spirit of the Act, it may give to the authority a recommendation specifying the steps which ought in its opinion to be taken for enhancing conformity.
(5) The Commission, before specifying steps which ought in its opinion to be taken for enhancing conformity, may launch a professional study by a consultant of systemic impediments in the public authority and possible solutions and may, in this regard, advise the public authority to take professional help.
(6) It shall be the duty of the department /organization to include in its annual report the recommendation of the Commission under these rules and compliance thereof.
(7) It shall be open to the department/ organization/ public authority that in lieu of the recommendation of the Commission specifying the steps which ought in the opinion of the Commission to be taken for enhancing conformity with the provisions of the Act, it may come up with an alternative model for achieving the same with sufficient dispatch but not later than four months of receipt of the Commission's recommendation and only if agreed to by the Commission, the same shall be considered as the sufficient steps to be taken for the purposes of this rule.
(8) The public authority during its performance audit shall disclose any recommendation made under these rules and compliance thereof to the auditors.
(9) The Commission in its annual report shall include these recommendations made to a department/ organization/ public authority and compliance thereof.
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