HC Orders ‘Pro-Active’ Voluntary Disclosure Of Info By All Govt Deptts 

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SRINAGAR — The High Court has directed the government to strictly adhere to J&K Right to Information Act 2009, particularly its Section 4 which calls for voluntary and pro-active disclosure of permissible information by all its departments.

The directions were passed  by a division bench of Justices Ali Mohammad Magrey and Sanjeev kumar while closing a Public Interest Litigation filed by J&K Right to Information Movement through counsel Shafaqat Nazir. 

The PIL had sought directions to the government to make “suo-moto and pro-active” disclosure of all available permissible information through official websites and other modes prescribed under law. 

 Shafqat submitted that Section 4 of the J&K RTI Act made it obligatory and compulsory for all the public authorities operating in the State to make the suo-moto and pro-active disclosure of all the permissible information available with them within a period of 120 days from the date of commencement of the Act. 

In that backdrop, he submitted that the Act came into force on 20 March 2009, meaning thereby that by 19 July 2009, the public authorities in Jammu and Kashmir were expected to comply with the provision of law. “To the utter dismay of the petitioner organization, in particular, and the public at large, in general, almost all the public authorities operating under the administrative control of the respondents have miserably failed to satisfy the requirements of the law,” he said.

M A Chashoo, the Additional Advocate General, submitted that there shall be no difficulty for the government to adhere to the instructions and directions contained in the Act.

After hearing both the sides, the division bench said: “we are of the opinion that no useful purpose can be achieved by keeping this Public Interest Litigation pending before this Court. It being so, we dispose of this Public Interest Litigation with a direction to the respondents to strictly adhere to the mandate of the J&K Right to Information Act, 2009, in letter and spirit, particularly Section 4 of the Act.”

The court said that in the event, petitioner was unsatisfied with any action on the part of any Government Departments, it shall be at liberty to approach the appropriate forum for seeking redressal of its grievances.

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.

 

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