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Atul Patankar

Nagaland tops national RTI charts

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Atul Patankar

As reported at morungexpress.com on

 

…But ill-informed officers ‘embarrass’

 

Morung Express News: The full assessment report on the performance of states, in complying with the suo moto disclosures and provisions of the Right to Information Act 2005, has Nagaland topping the charts over all the other states in the country. Nagaland beat even infamous administrative nightmares like New Delhi and Information Technology capital Karnataka hands down. And the Union Territories fared even ‘worse’ in performance, the report of the Bangalore-based Public Affairs Center showed.

 

The full report was obtained recently. The assessment covered twelve central government ministries or departments sixteen departments each of the 28 state governments and the six Union Territories, the Central Information Commission and the State Information Commissions of 27 state governments.

 

According to the report, Nagaland led the top five with 62% and Delhi (56%), Bihar (55%), Punjab (51%) and Andhra Pradesh (49%) following in the top list. Of the low-ranked states Jharkhand, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh were at the nadir with 0%, while Uttarakhand secured 3% and Kerala 6%. The surprising result was that of India’s IT state Karnataka, whose performance was “below average” at 30.2% – ranked 15th among 28 states.

 

According to the report, the “degree of compliance seems” to correlate with recent histories of administrative reforms – or Information Technology initiatives of the state governments in concern. The report cited the case of Nagaland – it was one of the first states to introduce administrative reforms with e-governance as the flagship drive.

In contrast, for Delhi, it is mandatory for every department to allocate 2% of its total IT allocation “initiatives” within the department in concern. Bihar was commended for its innovative call-center system (or “Jaankaari”) to providing information under the RTI Act.

 

The downside for Nagaland

Now the damper before any celebrations commence: many departmental officers or Public Information Officers in Nagaland entrusted with providing demanded information are too “casual” and ill-informed on RTI. In fact, many officers are so inept at handling RTI applications that a case in January this year saw the Nagaland Information Commission lamenting that the officers are only “embarrassing themselves and their departments.”

 

On January 28 in Kohima this year, the Information Commission rebuked senior officers of the department of Power for pleading ‘ignorance’ about the provisions of RTI. A citizen had sought information from the Power department but response was delayed over the claim of not being “conversant” with handling RTI applications and its provisions. This plea of the officer in concern – according to a copy of the commission’s proceeding obtained here – is neither reasonable nor acceptable, the commission stated.

 

“The commission has raised this issue a number of times in meetings with heads of administrative departments and heads of departments and also with chief secretary and senior officers for the last two years,” the commission’s record quoted the information commissioners. “…in many cases officers take these matters casually, and do not apply their mind, thereby embarrassing themselves and their departments when they receive and have to handle RTI applications,” the commission lamented.

 

Source: Current News | Latest News | Breaking News | Nagaland News - MorungExpress.com - Nagaland tops national RTI charts

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