RTI Mangaldai
HK Das (centre), Chief Information Commissioner of Assam flanked by Jatindra Lahkar (left) and DC, Darrang, Ashok Barman (right) addressing the workshop. Photo: Northeast Now

“Like the rights of speech and expression as defined in the Article 19 of the Constitution, the Right to Information is a fundamental right of every citizen of the country. So every public authority must be very careful in dealing with a petition filed under the provision of the Right to Information Act,” said Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) of Assam, Himagshu Shekhar Das while taking part as the chief speaker in a workshop on RTI Act in the Deputy Commissioner’s conference hall at Mangaldai late Wednesday afternoon.

“The Right to Information Act 2005 came into effect in Assam in the year 2006  with an objective of bringing transparency, accountability in the public works and containing corruption and hence it very much important to provide information without delay as we may observe that information delayed is information denied,” maintained the Chief Information Commissioner.

Throwing light on the brief historical back ground of the Act the CIC further said, “The RTI concept originated with the French Revolution in 1789 as the citizens of France wanted to know information on the lavish lifestyle of the King. Then eventually, it came into effect in Sweden and Columbia and now it is effective in more than one hundred countries of the world.”

Criticizing a government notification regarding exemption of two investigating agencies namely – Crime Investigation Department (CID) and Bureau of Investigation (Economic Offences), (BIEO) wing of Assam Police from the purview of the RTI Act, the CIC termed it as a violation to the provision of the RTI Act.

Explaining certain provisions of the RTI Act, he said that private institutions like nursing homes, hotels, manufacturing companies and the likes all are not free from the purview of the RTI Act and in this regard the information seekers can get their information not directly from the private bodies but from their concerned controlling public authority.

The CIC also discussed on many other  relevant issues of the Act including penal provisions against public information  officer violating the Act, mode of application fees, motive of a petitioner, use of new information technology, modernization in the maintenance  of the public records system, preparation of the rules of the RTI Act as simple as possible for effective results etc and also participated in an open interactions with the participants which included PIOs, RTI activists and media persons among others.

Former Deputy Commissioner and consultant of State Information Commission, Jatindra Lahkar said that the PIOs are responsible for any lapse in providing the required information to the applicant. Darrang Deputy Commissioner Ashok Kumar Barman also addressed the workshop while Additional Deputy Commissioner Pankaj Chakravarty offered a hearty welcome to the Chief Information Commissioner on his first visit to the district.

Mayukh Goswami

Mayukh Goswami is Northeast Now Correspondent in Mangaldai. He can be reached at: mayukh.mld@gmail.com

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