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AIC rues departments not sending reports on time



GUWAHATI, May 5: At a time when the BJP-led government at Dispur is claiming to have brought about the highest level of transparency in its functioning, several government departments have been found not submitting their annual administrative reports on the implementation of Right to Information (RTI) during 2016-17.

The annual report of the Assam Information Commission (AIC) for 2016-17 has revealed that administrative reports of several departments had not been submitted despite repeated reminders by the commission. 

The erring departments are higher education, elementary education, finance, health and family welfare, cultural affairs, industries and commerce, information and public relations, panchayat and rural development, parliamentary affairs, public enterprises, tea tribes welfare, tourism and veterinary.

Seven other government departments – welfare of plain tribes, water resources, legislative, mines and minerals, border protection and development, transport and personnel (A) – had submitted their reports about RTI implementation after two reminders from the AIC.

The AIC’s annual report said departments such as revenue and disaster management, printing and stationary, secretariat administration, general administration, implementation of Assam Accord, and public works, building and national highways did submit their reports on time.

Their annual administrative reports are supposed to be submitted to the commission for preparation of its annual report, which is tabled in the State Assembly every year.

The report said 1,658 appeal cases and 380 complaints remained pending with the AIC, while it disposed of 2,613 appeals and 439 complaint cases during 2016-17.

The commission has observed that a delay in framing rules under the Assam Public Records Act, 2002 by the State Government had affected proper implementation of RTI in the State.

“Without effective implementation of the Assam Public Records Act, 2002, resolving the issue of lost/missing records will be a difficult task. The underlying requirement of Assam Public Records Act, 2002 is archival value of public records. It was legislated prior to the RTI Act, 2005, where most of the information sought for by the applicants is of current, short-term and medium-term nature. It is, therefore, imperative that the State government brings out an appropriate records/information manual categorizing different types of information as mentioned in Section 2 (f) of the RTI Act, 2005,” said the report.