Jammu: The Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir is in the process of establishing an online portal for the Right to Information Act (RTI), modeled after the Government of India’s portal, Daily Excelsior reported.
Chief Secretary Dr Arun Kumar Mehta has stressed the importance of incorporating Aadhaar-based authentication for online RTI applications.
In a recent meeting discussing the implementation of the RTI Act in the region, Dr Mehta directed the Administrative Secretary of the Information Technology Department to develop the online RTI portal.
The Chief Secretary has mandated that the filing of RTI applications should be processed online, and the guidelines for the online RTI portal should mirror those set by the Government of India for its departments and ministries. Furthermore, Dr Mehta emphasised the necessity of providing comprehensive training to all officers designated as Public Information Officers (PIOs) in Public Authorities. Henceforth, PIOs are required to undergo a mandatory three-day training before assuming their roles.
Citing concerns raised by the Central Information Commission (CIC) regarding the handling of RTI applications, sources told the newspaper that the training will focus on ensuring the accuracy and correctness of information provided in response to RTI requests.
Additionally, PIOs will be trained to read between the lines of RTI applications and understand the administrative actions required.
To promote transparency, the Chief Secretary has directed all departments to develop clear Dos and Don’ts regarding information disclosure under the RTI Act, aligning with the transparency laws enacted by the Parliament.
Administrative Secretaries have been urged to proactively disclose relevant information in the public interest on departmental websites.
Even the Housing and Urban Development Department has received instructions to explore the possibility of disclosing building permissions on their website in accordance with the RTI Act.
Sections 4(1)(b), 4(2), and 4(3) of the RTI Act outline the proactive disclosure requirements for Public Authorities.
It mandates the publication of organizational particulars, functions and duties, powers and duties of officers and employees, and budget details within 120 days of the Act’s enactment.
Furthermore, it stresses the continuous effort of Public Authorities to provide information suo motu to the public through various means, including the internet, to minimize reliance on the RTI Act for obtaining information.
All information should be disseminated widely and in easily accessible formats, considering cost-effectiveness and local language.