NGO alleges Gujarat laggard in implementing RTI Act, Govt says will look into it

Nine years after introduction of the Right to Information (RTI) Act, Gujarat is still lagging behind in its implementation, alleged rights activists here on Saturday.

PTI| Last Updated: Oct 12, 2014, 00:18 AM IST

Ahmedabad: Nine years after introduction of the Right to Information (RTI) Act, Gujarat is still lagging behind in its implementation, alleged rights activists here on Saturday.

"RTI Act will complete nine years on October 12, 2014. As per Section 27 of this Act, the state governments are given powers to frame rules for implementation of the Act," activists from a city-based NGO 'Mahiti Adhikar Gujarat Pahel' (MAGP) said in a press statement.

"Though, Gujarat has made the best rules in RTI Act, it has been lagging behind in the implementation of the Act and there is a lot to be done in its implementation," MAGP office-bearers Pankti Jog and Harinesh Pandya alleged.

MAGP alleged pendecy in hearing of RTI appeals, non-appointment of Information Commissioners in fair numbers, lack of "pro-active disclosure" initiatives in government offices and denying of information to the applicant.

"As per Section 15(2)(b), state government can appoint maximum ten information commissioners in state. But the Gujarat government has not appointed the information commissioners in sufficient numbers, despite the Gujarat High Court's directions on the issue," the statement said, adding that there are four information commissioners in the state, including Chief Information Commissioner (CIC).

According to the NGO, there is a backlog of 7,196 cases before the SIC up to September 2014.

"Despite several circulars of the SIC and the state's General Administration Department for 'pro-active disclosure', there are various government offices from state secretariat to village-level office who are not implementing it," MAGP alleged.

It said that in 37 per cent cases of RTI applications, people have to approach SIC as they do not get information through pro-active disclosure.

"In five per cent cases of RTI applications, the applicants are denied information with a reason that 'records are not found'," they alleged.

When contacted, state Law Minister Pradipisinh Jadeja said, "I do not have any such details that RTI Act is not being properly implemented in the state. During last 4 years, I never came across with any such details, so I cannot say much on this.

"But, I assure people that we will take necessary steps if there are any problems in the implementation of the Act," Jadeja told PTI.