Right to Information – Master key to good governance

Citizens slow in using RTI in KERALA

Posted by rtiact2005 on July 11, 2006

Citizens slow in using RTI in KERALA


Posted online: Monday, July 10, 2006 at 0000 hours IST


Despite the extra eye of high literacy, the Keralite public has been painfully slow in reading the civic rights opportunities in the Right to Information Act (RIA) ensemble. Resistance from officials and politicians have not helped in utilising the legislation to its full hilt.The latest instance was when access to a report of the commission on the Marad riots was denied. (The gory killings in the beach village, with complex communal overtones, had rocked the socio-economic psyche of the state, which takes pride in its secular fabric). The government turned down the request of Gokul Prasad, representing a Palakkad-based outfit, ‘People’s Liberation Forum,’ for a copy of the report. The Kerala State Information Commission had, in response to a complaint, instructed the state government on June 21 to provide a copy, says Commission secretary Aravindakshan. But the home minister declined and did not hesitate to say so in the assembly.

Officials had been vying with one another to get their department exempted from the ambit of the Act. Even after the Commission was in place, the immediate reflex has been to resist sharing of information under some pretext or other. The revenue department has been the main culprit in lack of transparency, says Col KK Kurup, in Tellicherry, who has tried using the new right and is facing various obstacles.

Surprisingly, South Kerala is nearly absent in the data on information interaction complied by Commission. In the six months of the Commission’s existance, it has attended about 140 complaints and 50 appeals. Most active in follow-ups has been the North Kerala public, with the bulk of the requests on clearing red tape on basic civic issues. Few state departments have been pro-active on disclosure. The Act says all departments will publish their working details on websites within 100 days of enactment. State PSUs and autonomous bodies under the state government still carry obsolete information on their websites.

The State Information Commission also notes a small momentum in the growth of complaints and appeals. Complaints are up from six per week to eight per week. Appeals have nearly doubled to eight per week in six months, says an official.


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