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Govt Depts Render RTI Act Toothless

A picture of the Treasury Office. Image Credit: Sangai Photo.

IMPHAL, Mar 30: Sloppy functioning in various departments under the Government of Manipur has created difficulties in entertaining information sought under Right to Information Act.

According to sources in the office of State Chief Information Commissioner, since the enforcement of Right to Information Act in 2005, numerous applications seeking information on the developmental activities taken up by various Government departments have poured in.

Unfortunately, the Government has not been able to provide the information being sought in time on account of inept functioning and indifference of the Government employees.

The sources explained that along with implementation of Right to Information Act, State Public Information Officers concerned have been appointed in all the Government departments to entertain the applications submitted seeking information without reaching the office of the State Information Commissioner.

The State Public Information Officers concerned are supposed to provide the information being sought within a month of filing the application.

In case, the required information is not provided, then a complaint can be lodged with the Commissioner of the Department concerned.

If the Commissioner also fails   to provide the information, then only the State Chief Information Commissioner should be approached for assistance.

However, in case of Manipur, as the State Public Information Officers as well as the Commissioners of the Government departments could not provide the information being sought in time, the State Chief Information Commissioner has been compelled to take up as many as over 222 cases since January this year to the current month, sources disclosed, adding that all these cases have resulted from failure of the Departments concerned to provide the information being sought in time.

Of these cases, sources further disclosed, the highest of over 90 cases are related to Rural Development and Panchayati Raj (RD & PR) Department alone and another over 100 cases are related to the four Engineering Departments namely IFCD, PHED, Public Works Department and Electricity Department.

Taking into account of the number of applications filed in evocation of Right to Information Act and the failure of providing the information being sought, the RD & PR and the four Engineering Departments can dubbed as the sloppiest or haphazardly managed Government Departments in Manipur.

When the cases related to failure of the Government departments to provide information being sought under Right to Information Act finally reach the office of the State Chief Information Commissioner, there have been instances in which the State Chief Information Commissioner imposed fine upto Rs 1 lakh at the rate of Rs 250 daily against the defaulting Departments apart from ensuring that information being sought are provided to the applicants.

Of the many cases taken up since the implementation of the Act in 2005, the State Chief Information Commissioner has, so far, resolved over 600 cases. Yet, among such resolved cases, there are also instances in which the Government departments have shown inconsistency in their responses.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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