Srinagar May 02: Senior PDP leader and former Vice Chairman J&K Cements Ltd Engineer Nazir Ahmad Yatoo has appealed Government to abide by the advisory of Central Information Commission (CIC) wherein they have directed the Government to make voluntary disclosure of COVID 19 related information in line with the section 4 of RTI Act 2005.
Yatoo said that all the details about expenses incurred on account of tackling with COVID 19 pandemic in J&K should be uploaded on a web portal and updated on weekly basis. This will not only ensure transparency and accountability but will also restore faith of people with the Government officers who are doing exemplary work from day one in tackling this pandemic.
In a statement Engineer Nazir Yatoo said that people have the Right to Information under RTI Act 2005 and denying this to them is a violation of their fundamental rights as RTI has been declared as a fundamental right by Supreme Court in past. I appeal authorities to ensure information on expenses incurred on purchases related to COVID 19 by SMC , JMC , Directorate of ULB Kashmir , Jammu , supply of free ration and other issues be made public as mandated under RTI Act and as per CIC’s guidelines.
From last many days questions are being raised that material and chemicals used to fight COVID 19 pandemic is being purchased on exorbitant rates. If Govt makes the details public the clear picture can be put before the public.
Pertinently Supreme Court last year gave four more weeks to the Centre and 25 states to file responses on a plea seeking directions for setting up online RTI portals, enabling people to apply electronically for the information required instead of filing applications physically. The role of filing online RTI has become more important during this COVID 19 pandemic. A bench of justices N V Ramana, Sanjiv Khanna and Krishna Murari had expressed displeasure during the case hearing in October last year as the apex court had issued notice to the Centre and states on the petition on August 26 2019.
The states including J&K had failed to file the response before SC. The PIL in this regrad was filed by a Delhi-based NGO ‘Pravasi Legal Cell’. The plea said the Centre has established an online RTI portal in which any Indian citizen, including NRIs, can apply for information under the RTI Act with the desired ministry or department. Pertinently Central Government in December 2013 had requested the state governments to explore the feasibility of implementing online RTI in their respective states but only a handful of States implemented the same.
“J&K Government is not accepting online RTI applications which needs to be explored . I appeal LG Murmu and Chief Secretary to intervene” Yatoo added