Srinagar, June 14 : The government on Thursday said that it has viewed “seriously” the non-submission of Annual Returns under Section 25 of the RTI Act as intimated by the Central Information Commission.
“Information is the currency of democracy and the Right to Information Act, 2005, in addition to fostering citizen-empowerment and eradicating corruption, envisages a robust mechanism for monitoring of all Public Authorities by the Central Information Commission,” the government said in a circular.
Referring to Section 25 of the Right to Information Act, the government underlined that it provides that each Ministry or Department shall, in relation to the public authorities within their jurisdiction, collect and provide such information to the Central Information Commission or State Information Commission, as the case may be, as later is required to prepare the report under this section and comply with the requirements concerning the furnishing of that information and keeping of records for the purposes of this section.
Each report, the government said, shall state in respect of the year to which the report relates the number of requests made to each Public Authority; the number of decisions where applicants were not entitled to access to the documents pursuant to the requests; the provisions of this Act under which these decisions were made and the number of times such provisions were invoked; the number of appeals referred to the Central Information Commission or State Information Commission, as the case may be, for review, the nature of the appeals and the outcome of the and particulars of any disciplinary action taken against any officer in respect of the administration of this Act; the amount of charges collected by each Public Authority under this Act; any facts which indicate an effort by the Public Authorities to administer and implement the spirit and intention of this Act and recommendations for reform, including recommendations in respect of the particular public authorities, for the development, Improvement, modernization, reform or amendment to this Actor other legislation or common law or any other matter relevant for operationalizing the right to access information.
“Under the ambit of the section, the Central Information Commission prepares an Annual Report on the implementation of the RTI Act and makes necessary recommendations to Public Authorities regarding steps for bringing their practices in conformity with the provisions and spirit of the Right to Information Act,” it said, adding, “All Public Authorities are required to submit four quarterly returns for yearly performance-assessment and finalization of the Annual Report.” Public Authorities, which fail to submit returns, even for a single quarter, are treated as defaulters, the government underlined.
“It has been intimated by the Central Information Commission that Public Authorities in the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir are not submitting Annual Returns under Section 25 of the RTI Act, a matter which has been viewed with serious concern by the authorities,” it said, adding, “It is accordingly enjoined upon all CPIOs of various departments, their subordinate/field offices, Corporations, Boards and PSUS to register themselves and submit quarterly returns on the designated portal by or before 30.06.2023.”
Lapses, if any, shall be the personal responsibility of the CPIO concerned, it said.