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Mindset of officials blamed for RTI delays

Special Correspondent
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Information Commissioner rues inadequate documentation

State Information Commissioner H.N. Krishna at an interactive session in Mysore on Saturday.
State Information Commissioner H.N. Krishna at an interactive session in Mysore on Saturday.

The State Information Commissioner H.N. Krishna has attributed the delay in dispensing information under the Right To Information (RTI) Act to poor maintenance of files and the mindset of bureaucrats.

Speaking to presspersons here on Saturday as part of a session organised by the Information Department, Mr. Krishna rued the inability of officials to process data into information and the lack of training to officials on what to share with the public.

He said files were poorly maintained and dumped as if they were in a godown.

Besides, he said, some senior officials had an old-fashioned style of functioning, although the RTI Act required them to be open with information.

Perceptible change

Since the enactment of the “revolutionary” RTI Act, there had been a perceptible change in the functioning of government, Mr. Krishna said. Files after 2005 had also been better maintained, he added.

He said the implementation of the Act in the State was improving, but more needed to be done to make it an effective tool in ushering in transparency. Greater public awareness about the Act and training officials on it would help in this regard, he said, and urged journalists and lawyers to harness the potential of the Act.

Questions

Mr. Krishna said the bulk of requests under the RTI Act in the State sought details from the Revenue Department (12,000 applications). The Home Department got 6,500 applications, while 1,600 applicants sought information from the Public Works Department, about 3,000 from the Department of Education, 1,100 from the Finance Department, and 2,013 from the Forest Department.

However, 16,000 applicants had not had their requests processed, or information was not provided within the 90 days as stipulated by law. This delay had forced the commission to levy fine on the officials concerned, Mr. Krishna said, and added that Rs. 22.69 lakh had been collected as fine in the State last year.

Obligation

Responding to the complaint that officials either turn down requests for information or ask the complainant to come at a specified hour, Mr. Krishna said no official could turn down any request for information sought during office hours.

Deputy Director of the Information Department Prakash Aboor was present.

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