The various state governments in the country have not been “up to the mark” in sharing more information related to governance through suo motu disclosures mandated under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, Union Minister V. Narayanasamy has said.
“The Centre is doing a lot to promote RTI Act. But what the state governments are doing is not up to the mark. They need to work more on it. They need to take an active role in promoting RTI and putting information in the public domain,” said Mr. Narayanasamy, Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions.
Information related to Public Private Partnerships (PPP), transfer orders of officers and employees, objections or paras by the Comptroller and Auditor General and Public Accounts Committee, among others, need to be put in the public domain, he said.
“We want a common man living in rural areas to be able to file an RTI application. He should be made aware of it. This is the purpose of our government. We want to project ourselves as an open government,” Mr. Narayanasamy said.
The minister also sought suggestions from the people on promoting the RTI Act and making it more user-friendly.
“We need the support of the people and civil society... We are open to suggestions which would make the Act more useful.
We will issue guidelines or notifications immediately based on important suggestions,” he said.
Mr. Narayanasamy was speaking at the inauguration of a day-long national workshop on RTI Act organised here by the Department of Personnel & Training (DoPT), the nodal department for the implementation of the transparency law.
DoPT had last April issued directions for all central government ministries to comply with the compulsory obligation of suo motu disclosures mentioned under Section 4 of RTI Act, 2005.
Each ministry or public authority was asked to ensure that the guidelines for suo motu disclosures were fully operationalised within a period of six months from the date of the issuance of the directive, or April 15, 2013.
Information about fees, tolls and other kinds of revenue that may be collected under authorisation from the government, information in respect of output and outcomes and the process of selection of private sector parties may also be proactively disclosed, the guidelines stated.
DoPT guidelines also make it obligatory for the various departments to publicise all transfer orders through their website or by any other means.
All public authorities may also proactively disclose the CAG and PAC paras and the action taken reports only after these have been tabled in both Houses of Parliament, it has been stated.
The conference, held at the Indian Institute of Public Administration (IIPA), was attended by, among others, Chief Information Commissioner Sushma Singh, Secretary, DoPT, SK Sarkar, Joint Secretary, Mamata Kundra, and former Chief Information Commissioner, Satyananda Mishra.
The conference was followed by two panel discussions — on ensuring compliance on suo motu disclosures, and best practices vis-a-vis the RTI Act.