People’s participation must for RTI Act’s success
By A Staff Reporter
GUWAHATI, July 15 – The various aspects of the Right To Information Act and the need for people’s participation in making its implementation a success were underlined in a programme organised by the Living Heritage Foundation in the city today.
Addressing a section of the public and media, UN Bora, joint secretary, Government of Assam stated that the RTI Act was a practical tool for citizens to secure access to information and it made it obligatory for public authorities to maintain records.
Facilitating free flow of information, the Act seeks to provide transparency, and accountability, and thus reduce corruption.
The Right To Information includes access to inspection of work, documents, records, extracts or certified copies and also documents stored in electronic or digital format.
Under its purview, information could be sought from bodies established by the Constitution, legislatures, and even NGOs partially funded by the Government.
Bora also pointed out that application seeking information could be filed before the Public Information Officer (PIO) or the Assistant Public Information Officer (APIO) in a form specified for the purpose by paying a nominal fee. The fee of rupees ten could be waived if the applicant belonged to the below poverty line category.
In order to facilitate the process all public authorities are required to maintain their records in an easily accessible format. A proactive disclosure of information has been encouraged under the Act.
PIO, which every department or organisation would have, is obliged to render assistance, dispose request or cite reasons for rejecting a request.
Under the Act, any request of information would have to disposed within 30 days. If the information pertains to life and liberty then the time limit is between 48 hours and 5 days.
He further added that if the PIO caused any delay in providing information, the Act had a provision to penalise the official concerned. Departmental proceedings could also be initiated against him.
Dr Subhram Rajkhowa of Gauhati University’s Law Department while lauding the effort of the Living Heritage Foundation in creating awareness about the RTI Act said that people should come forward to use the legislation for the greater good of society. He mentioned that the Act would enable people to secure information on a range of subjects, within a stipulated period of time.