HC Orders Voluntary Disclosure Of Info Under RTI Act

Srinagar—To make people aware about the mode of governance, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Tuesday directed government to strictly comply with the provision of voluntary disclosure of information by all its departments under J&K RTI Act 2009.

A division bench of Acting Chief Justice Ramalingam Sudhakar and Justice M K Hanjura asked the Commissioner Secretary GAD to ensure that all the department disclose information voluntarily under section 4 of the RTI Act so that the people are made aware about the mode of governance and consequent welfare measures for the public. The court also directed the commissioner secretary to report the bench by May 15 about the voluntary disclosure of the information by the various departments.

The J&K State Information Commission has been persistently requesting for ensuring implementation of the provisions of the J&K Right to Information Act.

In February this year, the GAD issued a circular and asked such departments who have not so far created their own departmental websites to do so within a fortnight and host the requisite material on the websites under the provisions of Jammu & Kashmir Right to Information Act, 2009, on regular basis. The CIC had shared details with the GAD about the status of different departments regarding creation of websites, disclosure under Section 4 of the RTI Act, appointment of Public Information Officer and First Appellate Authority.

The bench was hearing a Public Interest Litigation filed by the Jammu and Kashmir Right to Information Movement through its Chairman Raja Muzaffar Bhat, seeking directions regarding the strict compliance of the voluntary disclosure of information by all the departments under the legislation. The court issued notice to the government, seeking its response to the PIL by May 15.

The petitioner submitted that all the Public Authorities were required to make proactive disclosure of information under RTI Act within 120 days of its enactment. However, the petitioner said that even after nine years of the enactment, the voluntary disclosure of the information was still not being done by most of the Government departments.

“State Information Commission (SIC) tried its best to impress upon Government to implement section 4 of J&K RTI Act . The Government hardly cared to adhere to SIC’s several notices. We as a responsible and organized group were forced to seek intervention of High Court,” the petitioner said.

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