All appeals, complaints pending under RTI in J&K will be handled by CIC: Government

NEW DELHI: All second appeals and complaints pending before the State Information Commission pursuant to the previous State Law (RTI) will be handled by the (CIC), in accordance with official documents.

The measure occurs when the state of Jammu and Kashmir was divided into two: Jammu and Kashmir, and effective as of October 31, 2019.

A large number of applications and appeals filed under the Jammu and Kashmir Right to Information Act, 2009, would have been pending on the date of the fork.

Since the two new UTs were formed, citizens and transparency activists have approached RTI defenders and interested officials seeking clarity on the elimination of their applications, and the first pending appeals before several public authorities and the second appeals and complaints pending before the State Information Commission.

According to the RTI Central Law, UTs have no power to establish and establish Information Commissions, activists say.

Official documents accessed through the RTI Act by transparency activist Venkatesh Nayak reveal that the Ministry of Personnel of the Union had written on October 15, 2019 to the CIC mentioning the necessary steps for the transition of the J&K RTI Law 2009 to the RTI Law of the Center, 2005.

All appeals and complaints pending before the J&K Information Commission were to be transferred to the CIC, in accordance with the action plan of the Ministry of Personnel shared with the CIC.

The transparency regulator was asked to examine these steps and offer its comments, including the appropriate nomenclature of the officials responsible for dealing with RTI requests in addition to the resolution of the first appeals, second appeals and pending complaints there.

The CIC, at its meeting held on October 25, 2019, accepted all the suggestions given by the Ministry of Personnel and recommended that the second appeals/complaints pending before the State Information Commission of Jammu and Kashmir be granted due seniority .

Meanwhile, the Jammu and Kashmir Department of General Administration, on October 29, 2019, formed a five-member committee to examine issues related to the RTI State Law, a measure that social activists said was intended to delay the smooth transition

The panel, under the administrative secretariat of the Department of General Administration, has been mandated to examine whether the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir will fall under the jurisdiction of the CIC or if a separate commission should be established for that purpose.

It will also detail the actions that must be taken, such as the new appointment of Public Information Officers under the JK RTI Act, in case the territory of the union of Jammu and Kashmir is under the Central Information Commission.

A simple reading of Sections 12-17 of the RTI Central Law will reveal to anyone who correctly thinks that UTs do not have the power to establish and establish Information Commissions. Only the Center and the full-fledged states can establish such bodies. There was no need to establish a committee to examine this issue, said Nayak, head of the information access program (CHRI), an NGO.

He said that the bak JK GAD could have simply put a note on this subject and approved what the Ministry of Personnel had written and sent to the CIC, which also approved it.

All other actions to ensure a smooth transition have been outlined in the Ministry of Personnel statement that mentions the action plan. There was no need for a more detailed examination of any subject, Nayak said.