GUWAHATI, March 7 - Communications made by the public authorities through social media and e-mails also fall under the purview of the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005.
This was stated by HS Das, State Chief Information Commissioner, Assam, while inaugurating a daylong workshop on implementation of Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005, here today.
The workshop was jointly organised by the Assam Information Commission and the Assam Administrative Staff College.
According to an official press release here, the workshop was attended by First Appellate Authorities, State Public Information Officers and mediapersons.
In his inaugural speech, Das explained the intent of the legislation and stated that effective implementation of the Act will go a long way in ensuring transparency, good governance and containment of corruption in functioning of public authorities.
He also emphasised the need for a third-party audit by an independent body to be appointed by State government to assess the impact of the legislation in ensuring transparency, good governance and containment of corruption during the past 12 years of implementation of the RTI Act.
He further requested the State government to organise awareness programmes on RTI at district level both for the government officials and general public as stipulated under Section 26 of the Act.
He also laid stress on the need for bringing out a comprehensive record, or, information manual to suit the changing situation and also to update the existing RTI Rules for effective implementation of the Act.
The State Chief Information Commissioner also pointed out that contrary to the popular belief that only government offices and agencies are accountable under the RTI Act, even private bodies fall under the Act under its Section 2(f).
He requested the information seekers who desire to have information of any private body like private schools, nursing homes, hospitals, cinema halls, hotels, NGOs, etc., to submit request for information to the public authority concerned, who can access such information under any other law, instead of submitting the same to such private bodies.
Moreover, he observed that different public authorities are communicating with one another through social media and emails. Such communications also fall within the purview of the RTI Act and they should be preserved as part of official record maintenance. In the Government of India, such e-mail communications are being preserved in the NIC archive. The State Chief Information Commissioner urged that similar steps may be adopted by State government as well.
He also cautioned the public authorities concerned against making sensitive communications on subjects like security, maintenance of law and order, etc., through social media and WhatsApp, which are controlled by foreign multinationals.
The workshop was also addressed by KK Dwivedi, Commissioner and Secretary, Personnel and A&RT Departments, Assam. SP Nandy and R Begum attended the function as resource persons.