Union minister urges civil society to come forward to free CIC of frivolous queries

Union minister Jitendra Singh urged the civil society on Friday to come forward in a big way to create awareness about the functioning of the RTI Act so that the Central Information Commission (CIC) is not overloaded with frivolous and non-essential queries, according to an official statement.

He suggested that the information authorities should ponder about not entertaining avoidable RTI applications and stressed that almost all information is available in the public domain today, the statement issued by the personnel ministry said.

Singh, the Union Minister of State for Personnel, said the Right to Information (RTI) Act is fully functional in Jammu and Kashmir and there is a pressing need to create public awareness about its functioning, according to the statement.

“After a meeting with the seniormost Information Commissioner, D P Sinha, who is officiating as the CIC, the Union minister has urged the civil society to come forward in a big way in this noble mission, so that the Central Information Commission is not overloaded with frivolous and non-essential queries,” it said.

Singh said ever since the Narendra Modi government came to power in 2014, transparency and citizen-centricity have become the hallmark of the governance model.

He said in the last six years, every conscious decision was taken to strengthen the independence and resources of the information commissions and all vacancies were filled as fast as possible.

The minister said the credit goes to the commission and its functionaries that on May 15, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the CIC started entertaining, hearing and disposing of RTI applications from the newly-created Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir through virtual means.

He also said any citizen of the country can now file an RTI application pertaining to matters related to Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, which was reserved only for the citizens of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir before the Reorganisation Act of 2019.

Consequent to the passing of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act 2019, the Jammu and Kashmir Right to Information Act 2009 and the rules under it were repealed and the Right to Information Act 2005 and the rules under it were enforced from October 31, 2019, the statement said.

This measure was widely hailed by the people of Jammu and Kashmir and the administration of the Union Territory, it added.

Sinha pointed out that the steps taken to facilitate CIC hearings during the lockdown and the partial lockdown included video-conferencing, audio-conferencing, facilitation of return submissions, uploading the contact details of the deputy registrars on the website, issuance of notices by e-post wherever required, online registration and scrutiny of fresh cases etc., according to the statement.