Moments after Narendra Modi took oath on May 26, the Prime Minister’s Office instantly launched a new version of its website http://www.pmindia.gov.in and http://www.pmindia.nic.in but 15 days later it’s yet to disclose key details required under the Right to Information Act.
These include: names of officers designated as Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) — to which all RTI requests to the PMO first go — and the First Appellate Authority under the law. Also, there is no mention of who is or will be Transparency Officer which was directed by the Central Information Commission (CIC) on November 18, 2010.
In the Manmohan Singh PMO, the CPIO was K Salil Kumar and the First Appellate Authority was Krishna Kumar. Both are in the Modi PMO as well. All what is needed under the law is making their names public on the website.
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Other Ministries have updated their websites with the names of the new Ministers with all details as required by the RTI.
There are 17 items required to be published on the websites of public authorities under RTI Act 2005. Other than who is the CPIO and who is the first appellate authority, these details include: powers and duties of department’s officers and employees; procedure followed in the decision-making process, including channels of supervision and accountability; and a directory of officers and employees. Section 4-3 of the RTI Act says that “every information shall be disseminated widely and in such form and manner which is easily accessible to the public.”
When contacted, a senior official of the National Informatics Centre and a member of the team responsible for the PMO website said: “We are in process of updating the information. We will soon put the details out.”
Interestingly, the PMO’s new website has a head called “Quest for Transparency” which states: “His (Prime Minister Modi’s) strong resolve to transparency backed by the manner in which he put this commitment to practice indicates an era of open, transparent and people-centric government for the people of India.” It further says that Modi “firmly believes that transparency and accountability are the two cornerstones of any pro-people government.”