Description of Progress of Right to Information in 12 states - GovtVacancy.Net

Description of Progress of Right to Information in 12 states - GovtVacancy.Net
Posted on 15-07-2022

Description of Progress of Right to Information in 12 states

The progress status of the Right to Information Act in 12 states was assessed by  Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA). These twelve states included – Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh,  Kerala, Gujarat, and Bihar. Formation of State Information Commissions in these states, their role, the role of nodal agencies, the appointment of Public Information Officers, the experience of obtaining information from them,  obligations manifested in Section IV of the RTI Act, and educated people about RTI under Section 26 of the Act The role of government in doing so was studied.


Formation and role of State Information Commission- The study found that out of these 2  states, except Arunachal Pradesh, information commissions had been set up in all 11 states till August 2006. But in some of these states like Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, and Rajasthan,  there was a delay of a few months in the establishment of State Information Commissions. They were not provided with adequate infrastructure like offices, computers, staff, funds, etc. For example, the Uttar Pradesh State Information Commission was overburdened and only two Information Commissioners were appointed. Bihar State  Information Commissioner took an oath, but the office address was not available on the website. Rajasthan Information Commission was working in one room. The State Information Commissions were reluctant to penalize the Public Information Officers even after the dereliction of duty. There were very few instances of punishment in such a case (Uttarakhand, Andhra Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh only saw some penalty cases). Rural areas felt that the appeal process was too costly (Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Maharashtra, and Chhattisgarh had provision of fee for appeal). Although there was a provision to appeal through the post,  people felt that in his absence his side would not be properly put up. The application fee was highest in Haryana  (Rs 50) and the maximum photocopy fee in Himachal Pradesh (Rs 10 per page).


Role of Nodal Agencies- The process of training Public Information Officers in Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Kerala has been started through nodal agencies of the state. Under the supervision of the Center for Good Governance, Yashada  (Pune), and the Institute of Public Administration, training work was going on for the Public Information Officers (PIOs) of the surveyed states. The training of the Line Department and Block Development Officer and Public Information Officer was not satisfactory. Many of them were not even aware of the ActIt was not clear how the training for Block Development Officers (BDOs) and Panchayat Secretaries would be provided by the nodal agencies. no time limit and The roadmap was not ready. In Uttar Pradesh itself, Panchayat Secretaries of 52 thousand gram panchayats were to be trained and the budget was only one million annually. The nodal agency of the states of Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, etc. disseminated information through RTI learning materials (templates, pamphlets, etc.). Whereas in other states its pace was much slower. In Kerala, the RTI Act was in Malayalam, which was difficult for the educated to understand.


* Appointment of Public Information Officers (PIOs) - In many places, there was doubt about the definition of public authority. In some states like Kerala, many public authorities like cooperative banks, and aided educational institutions were declaring that they are not covered under the RTI Act. Similarly,  private builders and private banks were also making announcements in Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. It is necessary to clarify this issue to the Central and State  Information Commissions. There was no People Information Officer in the  Punjab and Haryana  High Court (which is a public authority). In many places, such persons were appointed as Public Information Officers who did not have easy access to information. In Uttarakhand, the Sarpanch was made a Public Information Officer; Block Development Officer in Himachal Pradesh Appointed PIO up to Gram Panchayat. PIOs were generally made up of junior officers of the department, who found it difficult to get information from senior officers. PIOs were appointed, but not as per the requirement of the public authorities. Most of the public authorities (even at the district level) were found to be lacking name boards of PIOs, leaving people unable to know where to submit applications.


* Experience in getting information from PIOs -  Most of the PIOs at the state and district level were not cooperative, many times they used to come back to give back the applicant's application. Such an example was seen in Haryana. Some similar examples were seen in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Chhattisgarh. Most of the PIOs did not know under which authority the application fee should be deposited. He was mostly absent and no other application was made in his absence. Fees could be collected through postal orders, but most of the PIOs returned such fees saying that there is no provision for fees to be taken through postal orders. In the Bahraich district of Uttar Pradesh itself, PIOs were giving information to many people in a biased manner without taking money from them. of people PIOs should be given special training to sensitize them to the requirements, and PIOs who knowingly act erroneously or refuse to provide information should be punished.


* Obstacles revealed in Section IV of the RTI Act -  Ministry and Directorate level offices of Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh,  Uttarakhand, and Andhra Pradesh had given information about their procedures on their website. Whereas the Agriculture Department of Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and  Andhra Pradesh had adopted many issues of Section IV of the RTI Act. The list of officials and PIOs was not there in the Ministries and Directorates. Also, the details of expenses were only in the hands of seniors, details of district and block level funds were not available, and dates, etc. were not entered. It was also observed that self-disclosure had not been started at the district, block, and panchayat levels in these 12 states.



* Role of Government to educate people under Section 26 of the RTI Act  - The experience of RTI campaigns and training programs shows that almost 90% of the people are neither aware of the Act nor applyingThe use of RTI in rural areas was significantly lower in all states than in urban areas. The government neither used electronic and print media nor launched any campaign to popularize RTI among the people. Both the Central and State Governments neither allocated any funds for the RTI campaign nor cooperated with the nodal agencies.

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