RIT Status Report : Act still effectively remains on the statute books – Jharkhand RTI
The national Right to Information Act is a landmark for citizenship rights in India. fe takes a look at how it has been implemented since its enactment last year
Act still effectively remains on the statute books
Posted online: Monday, July 10, 2006 at 0000 hours IST
Implementation of the Right to Information (RTI) Act in Jharkhand is still in its utter infancy, with most people, including the leader of the Opposition, Sudhir Mahato, knowing little about it.Jawaharlal Sharma, a long-time human rights activist in Jamshedpur, when asked about RTI in the state’s most literate and industrialised district, East Singhbhum, says the Act “has not been implemented properly yet.” According to Prem Chand, chairman of the Free Legal Aid Committee (Flac), a social organisation active in spreading awareness against ‘witch killing’ (daaen hatya), “Ninety-nine per cent people don’t know anything about RTI.” One may guess the status of RTI in the state’s other 21 districts.
It wouldn’t, thus, be wrong to say here that even the educated in the state today have no clue as to what RTI is and what is to be done to seek any information, especially that which the government may find uncomfortable to give away. There is, thus, an all-round consensus that a lot needs to be done urgently to make the public aware of the power of the RTI, including the how-to-do aspect.
Talking of RTI’s impact so far on the state of governance, Nishant Akhilesh of People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) feels that Jharkhand has “yet to see any noticeable change in the pattern of governance,” adding that information going against government was not readily available. PUCL says that it had, around six months before, applied for information on the reasons for delay and the cost-overrun taking place in the construction of the ‘model’ Ghagidih jail, as also on the status of the Sakchi jail (both in and around Jamshedpur). It has yet to get the information.
PUCL also alleges that on having applied for the detail of the inquiry report concerning the death of one Sunil Gorai, who was killed in a lathi-charge by the Mango police a year before, the information officer told them they dare not complain against him for not furnishing the information.
Flac’s Chand complains about an instance where an organisation was asked recently to dish out a prohibitive amount to get a copy of a voluminous data.
“If a social organisation was unable to pay, how can we expect an individual to bear the brunt,” he asks.