Bureaucrats in Jammu and Kashmir civil secretariat seem to be in no mood to make state information commission functional. Their reservations are justified since the commission despite its shortcomings has made their life miserable.
Commoners peeved over even trivial issues approach them with RTI seeking details right from amount of money spent on purchasing coffee bags and biscuits to cars and other costly items. This irritation has resulted in the commission being reduced to single member with virtually no effort being made to make it fully functional.
The lone Information Commission Nazir Ahmed, a retired Engineer is working overnight to ensure that people do not lose hope in this commission and stop coming to it like they have already done in the case of State Accountability Commission and State Human Rights Commission. If the sources are to be believed, Law Secretary Ashraf Mir is yet to even start preliminary exercise for finding out credible faces who could be given responsibility of making the commission a vibrant institution.
They added that Law Secretary is waiting for the government to issue some directions in this regards. Sources further said that the Law Secretary did have some informal discussions with Chief Secretary about making the State Information commission fully functional but the exercise is yet to start. As per J&K Right to Information Act, commission is comprised of Chief Information Commissioner and two Information Commissioner. Shockingly, at present there is only one Information Commissioner and the posts of Chief Information Commissioner and another Information Commissioner are lying vacant since the last more than two months.
Information Commissioner, Dr S.K Sharma completed his tenure on October 31,2015 but no process was set into motion to peace new incumbent and the Commission continued to work with reduced strength. Sagginess towards filling post of Information Commissioner persisted for several months and finally the commission became defunct’ when the Chief Information Commissioner (CIC), G.R Sufi completed his tenure on February 29, 2016.
Although Nazir Ahmed, who is lone Information Commissioner in State Information Commission, is trying his level best to dispose of the cases, what result a commission would yield without its head and second arm can be easily presumed. When asked, RTI activist Raman Sharma said that it is an important office whose lone head is Nazir Ahmed. He added that according to Sec 12 of J&K RTI Act the commission should consist of three officers which includes one Chief Commissioner and two Information Commissioners, but the post for the Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) and the other Information Commissioner is lying vacant, he added.
He further said that after the death of our former Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, state was under Governor’s rule. “He could have passed an ordinance to extend the tenure of the then Chief Information Commissioner,” said Raman. He added that the now that the government has been formed, the new government should without wasting time, make SIC functional. He also said that misuse of RTI Act is possible, but no such case of misusing RTI Act has been experienced so far.