‘It should be easily accessible to public, in local language'

A public hearing of nearly 500 people from 30 Assembly segments of Delhi recently demanded that information on the proceedings of the Delhi Assembly and the MCD House be proactively provided to people in such form, manner and language that it is easily accessible to them.

In the hearing, organised by NGO Satark Nagrik Sangathan, people demanded that information on the proceedings of the Assembly and the MCD, such as the Bills passed, questions raised and debates be easily available to them.

Anjali Bhardwaj, founder of SNS, said information on the proceedings of the Assembly and the MCD must be proactively provided under the Right to Information Act. “Under Section 4 of the RTI Act this kind of information has to be provided to people by the Government in such form and manner which is easily accessible to the public and in the local language.”

On the need for this provision, Mithudas, a resident of Jagdamba camp slum in Malviya Nagar, testified that residents in her slum have no information about the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board Act which was passed in 2010 and provides for setting up a Board which will be responsible for providing civic amenities in slums.

“The public toilet in our slum has been in a state of disrepair and for many months we have been complaining to the MCD and to our councillor. Recently, when we went to complain to the councillor, someone in her office informed us that a new law -- the DUSIB Act -- has been passed under which now the MCD and councillors have no responsibility in the development of slums.''

Gyanwati, a resident of Sangam Vihar, testified that whenever they met with their elected representatives -- MLA and councillors -- about the water shortage in the area, the representatives would claim that they had raised the issue in the legislature.

“We keep running from pillar to post trying to resolve our problems. The MLA claims that he has raised our issues many times in the Assembly, but we have no way of knowing whether this is true or not.”

Laws and policies

President of Delhi Joint RWA Front Pankaj Aggarwal also said there was no information in the public domain on the proceedings of the Assembly and the MCD and the laws and policies framed by them.

“Therefore, even people living in high income settlements are often not aware of the laws, by-laws and policies framed by the Government.''

The meeting demanded that printed proceedings of the Assembly and the MCD be put at public places such as the Electoral Registration Office,Anganwadisand public libraries all over Delhi, and that the proceedings of the legislature should also be broadcast over the website and television.

Further, they demanded that boards should be displayed outside the offices of MLAs and councillors giving information on their membership on various committees like the Thana Committee and the District Development Committee.

After listening to peoples' testimonies, Delhi Social Welfare and Women and Child Development Minister Kiran Walia also stated that such information must be provided to people and assured them that she would take up the matter with other MLAs.

“In my constituency at least, I will ensure that information reaches all residents.”

Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi promised to take up the matter in the Information Commission and pass relevant orders on it.

Former Chief Central Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah said while providing information on the laws framed by the legislature was extremely important, a proper system should also be adopted for consulting with people while formulating laws and policies.