Chief Minister’s stress on transparency laudable, say activists.
Right to Information activists in the State have urged the Jagan Mohan Reddy government to put in place a robust State Information Commission.
They want constitution of the commission benches in Visakhapatnam and in Chittoor or Anantapur and effective implementation of Section 4 of the RTI Act that mandates the government to voluntarily provide information to the public through various platforms besides a facility to file RTI applications online and constitution of district-level committees to monitor effective implementation of the Act.
In a letter, addressed to the Chief Minister Chakradhar Buddha and Emmanuel Dasari, co-conveners of the Andhra Pradesh chapter of United Forum for RTI Campaign (UFRTI-AP), a confederation of civil society organisations and individuals working on issues related to the Information Act, said the Chief Minister’s stress on transparency was laudable. But to translate it into a reality, Mr. Reddy should resuscitate the Information Commission that was dysfunctional for most period during the Chandrababu Naidu rule in the State.
Besides an inordinate delay in appointing the commissioners, the process was not transparent, they said, adding that it resulted in accumulation of thousands of applications.
“Besides appointment of three more commissioners, the government should constitute commission benches in Visakhapatnam and in Tirupati or Anantapur to quicken the pace of clearing the pending applications. It will also save State resources,” said Mr. Buddha, citing the example of Maharasthra where eight benches of the commission operated from across the State making it easy for people to file petitions seeking information under the RTI Act.
They said it was estimated that proper implementation of Section 4 of the RTI Act that mandates the government to voluntarily give out information through platforms like its websites, would reduce RTI applications by almost 76 %. “But information given in most government websites is either misleading or not updated,” said Mr. Dasari.
They also demanded a way for online filing of the petitions, which they said, would not only save time and money but also quicken the process. Revival of the State-level committee and the district-level monitoring committees to ensure effective implementation of the Act, they asserted, would go a long way in making the RTI system a tool for transparency.
Update | The Hindu