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RTI neglected, losing steam in Jammu and Kashmir

Jehangir Rashid, Srinagar

A people’s initiative like the Right to Information (RTI) Act is fast losing its way in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) because the state government does not seem to be serious about making the State Information Commission (SIC) fully functional. The public, especially those who have resorted to using the RTI, are disappointed at the government’s lackadaisical approach. 

In April 2011, Ghulam Rasool Sufi (better known as G.R. Sufi) became the first Chief Information Commissioner of J&K. Sufi completed his five-year term in February this year and retired on February 29. But the government has shown no inclination to fill the vacant post.

Much before this, the three-member SIC was reduced to two members after one member completed his term in October 2015. Now, there is just one member and the resultant lack of quorum is evident. This has resulted in government departments not taking the SIC seriously.

The Chairman, J&K Right to Information Movement (J&K RTIM), Dr. Shaikh Ghulam Rasool, says effective steps need to be taken to make the RTI Act truly meaningful for the people of the state.

“Technically, the SIC has ceased to exist since the superannuation of the Chief Information Commissioner. The non-serious approach of the people at the helm towards the functioning of the Commission can be gauged by the fact that a solitary member is managing the whole show. The government needs to pull up its socks and take the requisite steps quickly,” said Dr. Shaikh.

He added that it is not imperative to appoint a retired bureaucrat to the post. A media person, academic or civil society activist with knowledge of the law can function effectively as Chief Information Commissioner.

“The SIC is not a rehabilitation centre for retired bureaucrats. The state government should move beyond this and take pathbreaking steps in the appointment. ...

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