The State Information Commission on Friday organised an awareness programme on effective implementation of the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005 in collaboration with the Central Department of Personnel and Training at the State Banquet Hall in Naharlagun in Arunachal Pradesh.
The Chief Information Commissioner (CIC), Dr Joram Begi, in his keynote address, said that the landmark Act has transformed the relationship between the citizens and the State. The necessity to enact the Act was to combat numerous scams prevailing in the country, to bring about transparency in the system with the objective to empower the citizens and to promote transparency and accountability in the working system of the governance on a day-to-day basis.
“The Act perceives the common man – differently-abled, illiterate, student, etc., – as an active participant in the process of nation-building by conferring on him a right to participate in the process through the implementation of the RTI Act,” Dr Begi said.
It has been more than a decade since the RTI Act has been operational in the State. The State information officers and appellate authorities are quasi-judicial functionaries under the RTI Act with distinctive powers and duties and they constitute the cutting edge of this “practical regime of information” as envisaged in the Preamble of the Right to Information Act. Together, they can create an effective mechanism for disposal of increasing numbers of requests for information being received from the citizens of India, the CIC said.
Terming the RTI Act as ‘sunshine’ Act which is working towards transparency and corruption-free governance, Dr Begi advised the information seekers and information givers (Public Information Officers – PIOs) not to misuse the Act.
The CIC also advised the media persons as they, being the fourth State organ, shoulder the responsibility to make the State “accountable and transparent”. As most people are not aware of exercising their right to freedom of information in a direct and personal way, the media’s role and significance of empowering the public about legal advantages of RTI as an anti-corruption weapon has become all the more important, he said.
“The RTI law has given a greater and wider space for the media to play in empowering people and consolidating a democratic polity. By using this legislation, the media can investigate and expose issues of wider public interest. The media, as the guardian of freedom of speech, can open up closed doors to transparency and accountability by disseminating information about RTI to secure people’s fundamental right to know,” he added.
He also advised the teachers and students to spread the information about RTI on a larger scale and make use of the awareness programme. The State Information Commissioner (SIC), AK Techi, presented a brief report on the Arunachal Pradesh Information Commission (APIC) where he said that 2,246 cases have been registered since 2014. Penalty was imposed in 68 cases and 1,041 cases disposed of while 61 cases are in progress.
In the day-long awareness programme, SIC Nanong Jamoh, who attended the programme as coordinator and resource person, talked about how to seek information (Section 7 of the RTI Act 2005) and third party information (Section 11) while SIC Mathiem Lenggi talked about obligation of public authorities, suo motu disclosure of information (Section 4) and exemption from disclosure of information (Section 8 and Section 9) in the technical session.
Commissioners, secretaries, chief engineers, DC, directors, Head of Departments (HODs), First Appellate Authority (FAA), PIO, teachers and students of university and colleges, RTI activists and media persons, and Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs) attended the programme.