Most of the district websites do not display any information about their annual budgets
Venkatesh Nayak | March 21, 2017 | New Delhi
The J&K Right to Information Act (J&K RTI Act) enters its ninth year of implementation. A study of the official websites of 230 public authorities under the J&K government conducted by J&K RTI Movement and CHRI reveals that compliance with the requirement of proactive disclosure of information under Section 4(1)(b) of the J&K RTI Act remains poor.
What is proactive information disclosure under Section 4 of the J&K RTI Act?
Section 4(1)(b) of the J&K RTI Act makes it compulsory for all public authorities to place a wealth of information in the public domain. This includes detailed information about their organization and functions, powers and duties of their officials, rules, regulations, norms and manuals that must guide their work, details of decision-making processes, budgets and expenditure, subsidiary programmes implemented, authorisations and permits issued and a list of all records held in paper or electronic form. Additionally, every public authority is required to publicise relevant facts about all important policy matters or decisions it takes, from time to time. Every person who is affected by any decision of a public authority has the right to be informed of the reasons behind such decisions. Section 4(2) of the J&K RTI Act explains that the purpose of proactively disclosing all this information is to reduce people’s need to seek information by filing formal RTI applications. A deeper examination of the scheme of the J&K RTI Act indicates that proactive disclosure of information is prioritized over reactive disclosure i.e., supplying information against formal RTI applications.
Key findings from the Rapid Study conducted by J&KRTI Movement and CHRI
Key findings from a rapid study of the official websites of the two Divisional Commissioners, the administration of 22 districts and 206 departments, autonomous bodies and other public authorities are as follows:
“Chief Minister’s Secretariat does not have budget allocation for any programme nor it has any agency under its direct control.”
However, the budget document uploaded on the website of the Finance Department displays the following sums of money allocated to the Council of Ministers and the CM’s Secretariat in 2017-18:
i) Council of Ministers (Voted): Rs. 752.80 lakhs;
ii) CM’s Secretariat- GAD: Salary, travel expenses, Medical reimbursement grant- Rs. 54.80 lakhs; and
iii) CM’ Secretariat- GAD: Secret Services expenses: Rs. 1,500 lakhs.
This Rapid Study is an outcome of the Internship Programme that CHRI hosted at its New Delhi office for Adv. (Ms.) Syed Iram Quadri and Adv. Bilal Ahmed Bhat, members, J&K RTI Movement (J&K RTI Movement) and the School for Rural Development and Environment (SRDE), from 01-28 February, 2017. CHRI and J&K RTI Movement have compiled this preliminary report.
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