J&K delays RTI amendment act

Jammu and Kashmir government delayed the approval in the amendment bill of the state’s Right to Information act to make it at par with the Central act.

Written by Ishfaq Naseem | Jammu | Published: February 20, 2009 10:07 am

Jammu and Kashmir government on Thursday delayed the approval in the amendment bill of the state’s Right to Information act (RTI act) to make it at par with the Central act and instead decided to seek the opinion of the people on the proposed amendments.

After a draft bill to amend the RTI act was discussed in the cabinet meeting,the state government decided to post the draft bill on the website of the general administration department to seek the opinion of the people.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Secretary,S S Kapur,said “the amendments are being posted on the website to seek the opinion of the people.”

Officials however said that the RTI act is being put on the web to acquaint people with the mechanism which they will have to make use of to get the information on the RTI act. The state government had earlier received complaints that there was a lack of information about the means people should adopt to get the information. However Chief Minister,Omar Abdullah,said that the RTI act will be made at par with the Centre and this was a legislation which the people can make use of to fight corruption.

Under the proposed amendments of the RTI,even the file notings and the decisions of the cabinet can be shared after the orders have been issued,sources said.

As per the draft amendment bill,the State Information Commission will be set up and people can file appeals with it that are being denied by officials.

Sources said that the RTI amendment bill seeks to set up a State Information Commission which will be headed by the Chief Information Commissioner of the rank of Election Commissioner. In case the designated information officers deny the information,the people can file an appeal with the State Information Commission.

As per the draft bill there are also two Information Commissioners who will function with the State Information Commission and their rank will be of the Chief Secretaries.

With the setting up of State Information Commission,the state is dispensing with the first and second appellate authorities of Secretaries and Ministers.

The Information Commission will have powers of civil court to enforce the attendance of the people and will also call the records.

However for the appointments of the Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners,the names will be approved by a committee headed by the Chief Minister Omar Abdullah,and it will have among its other members,the leader of opposition,Legislative Assembly Speaker,Legislative Council Chairman and Chief Justice of the State High Court.

Sources said that the draft bill was prepared by the state’s law department on the instructions of the State Chief Minister,Omar Abdullah,who had asked for giving the state’s RTI more teeth by making it at par with the Central act to root out corruption in the state.

Sources add that in case the people are aggrieved by the order of the State Information Commissioner,they can later approach the high court against its order by filing a writ petition.

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