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Last Updated: May 20, 2007 - 10:48:48 AM
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Government offices not honouring information law: campaigners
May 15, 2007 - 10:06:58 AM
'With Sec 4 properly implemented, a lot of information would have become available and open,' says Prakash Kardalay, an editor-turned-campaigner who has been spearheading the RTI campaign from Pune.

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[RxPG] Pune, May 15 - Hidden in the powerful Right to Information - Act is an equally potent section that could change the way India is governed.

But Section 4 - requiring all government offices to put out a wide range of information about their functioning on their own - is hardly getting implemented across the country.

Campaigners of RTI from across the country who met here recently are working to get the government to implement its own law. RTI was passed in mid-2005.

'This law requires the government to provide - almost 60 percent of the information available with any public authority,' argues Vijay Krishna Kumbhar, a Pune-based RTI campaigner.

He points out that this section of the law says every public authority shall, without any option, publish all relevant facts while formulating important policies or announcing decisions that affect the public.

'Can there be any policy or decision of any public authority which does not affect the public?' asks Kumbhar.

He has been busy writing to various authorities, drawing their attention to the legal need to 'publish certain categories of documents - so that citizens have to resort to the RTI act to the minimum to obtain information'.

His latest target was the Pune Municipal Corporation, since he believes municipalities tend to be misgoverned a bit more than other institutions.

'If the government departments had themselves come out with their information, there would be less need for the citizen to approach - for,' says Kumbhar.

'Why do we have to waste our time, money and energy for - information which is supposed to be available off-hand under Section 4 of the Right to Information Act,' he asks.

Section 4 lays down that 'every public authority' needs to maintain all its records 'duly catalogued and indexed in a manner and form which facilitates the right to information...and ensures that all records that are appropriate - computerised...'

It tells every government office across India to publish 'within 120 days' from the RTI Act's enactment a set of 17 different and detailed kinds of information about its functioning.

Reports coming in from grassroots campaigners from across India say most government departments have not complied with the requirements of the law.

By spelling out the particulars of how a government department functions, what the powers of its officers are, how decisions are made, details of records held by it... and a lot more, the functioning of any government department could come in for a new form of transparency.

In addition, government departments are also required to 'provide reasons for its administrative or quasi-judicial decisions to affected persons'.

'With Sec 4 properly implemented, a lot of information would have become available and open,' says Prakash Kardalay, an editor-turned-campaigner who has been spearheading the RTI campaign from Pune.


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