Right2Information

Right to Information – Master key to good governance

RIGHT TO INFORMATION ACT: Karnataka flattered only to deceive: World Bank

Posted by rtiact2005 on June 28, 2006

RIGHT TO INFORMATION ACT
Karnataka flattered only to deceive: World Bank
DH News Service Kolkata:
The World Bank-commissioned study scanned through various aspects of the law and concluded that KRIA was a powerful instrument for curbing corruption and the government okayed the rules in July 2002….
 

Karnataka has adopted one of the most progressive pieces of legislation on information in India, but gone slow on implementing it, a World Bank report said here on Friday.

The report — Reforming Public Services in India: Drawing Lessons from Success, which praised the provisions in the law, the Karnataka Right to Information Act (KRIA) — slammed the government for weak implementation of the Act, saying that this weakness reflects a lack of political ownership.

The World Bank-commissioned study scanned through various aspects of the law and concluded that KRIA was a powerful instrument for curbing corruption and the government okayed the rules in July 2002. However, an implementation audit of KRIA conducted by the Public Affairs Centre and Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative revealed that the Act was being poorly implemented. The audit stated that the government officials were generally ignorant of the law and except by one agency, the suo motu disclosure requirements of the new law were not being observed and information was provided after considerable delays and several calls to offices.

While 11 of the 20 public agencies approached for information did not respond, appeals against delays did not elicit response from officials and even approaching the Karnataka Administrative Tribunal (KAT) proved to be a daunting task, requiring legal counsel.

While noting that the State government had indeed, put in place information officers after the implementation audit was published, the report went ahead saying that there is still a sense of frustration.

“First, the government has not created a dedicated unit to implement the new law. Secondly, unlike in Delhi, there is no independent state council to push for implementation of the new law. International experience has shown that such councils can and do make a difference to the quality of implementation,” it said.

The report pointed out that KRIA’s appeal process has been unwieldy and secretaries were reluctant to overrule the judgment of their subordinates. KAT, while independent, is too formal and distant an institution to serve as an effective channel of appeals.

Finally, KRIA lacked high-level political and administrative ownership, it observed, but expressed hope that civil society groups and other individuals have embraced the law enthusiastically and “may yet make it work”.

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