By our Staff Reporter
GUWAHATI, March 7: State Chief Information Commissioner HS Das said that effective implementation of the RTI Act would go a long way in ensuring transparency, good governce and containment of corruption in functioning of public authorities.
A one-day workshop on ‘Implementation of Right to Information Act 2005’ was held here on Wednesday. It was organized jointly by the Assam Information Commission and Assam Administrative Staff College.
Das explained the intent of the Act. He also emphasized the need for a third party audit by an independent body to be appointed by the State Government to assess the impact of the Act in ensuring transparency, good governce and containment of corruption during the past 12 years of implementation of the RTI Act. He requested the State Government to organize awareness programmes on RTI at district level both for government officials and general public as stipulated under section 26 of the RTI Act. He also stressed the need for bringing out a comprehensive record/Information manual to suit the changing situation and also to updating the existing RTI Rules for effective implementation of the Act. The State Chief Information Commissioner pointed out that contrary to the popular misconception that only government offices and agencies are accountable under the RTI Act, even private bodies fall under the RTI Act under section 2(f). He requested the information seekers who desire to have information of any private body like private schools, nursing home, hospitals, cinema halls, hotels, NGOs etc. to submit request for information to the concerned public authority who can access such information under any other law, instead of submitting the same to such private bodies. He also observed that different public authorities are communicating with each other through social media and emails. He said that such communications also fall within the purview of the RTI Act and they should be preserved as part of official record maintence. In government of India, such e mail communications are being preserved in the NIC archive. The State Chief Information Commissioner urged that similar steps may be adopted by State Government also. He also cautioned the public authorities concerned against making sensitive communications on subjects like security, maintence of law and order etc., through social media and Whats App which are controlled by foreign multi-tiols.
AR & Training Commissioner-Secretary, Assam KK Dwivedi has said that RTI is not an instrument to harass people and it should only be applied when the need arises. Dwivedi said: “RTI came into being in Assam in April, 2006. RTI Act is often misused by many. It should be used only to get information what can bring some hidden truths to the fore.”