GUWAHATI, Dec 29 - Blatantly violating the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005, various public authorities and departments of the State government are yet to make suo motu disclosure of information as per section 4(1) of the Act. As a result, the very intention of the legislation to provide information suo motu without filing RTI petitions has been defeated in the State.
The fact came to light in the annual report submitted by the Assam Information Commission for the year 2019-20.
The report observed, �The status of suo motu declaration under sections 4(1) (b) and 4(2) of the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005 by various public authorities and departments of the State Government is very disappointing and it is a blatant violation of the statutory provision of the RTI Act.�
In the report, the Commission also alleged that, despite several reminders, three departments � Public Works Department, Public Enterprise Department and Transformation and Development Department � of the State government had failed to submit reports in relation to the public authorities under their jurisdiction as per the RTI Act.
On the other hand, nine departments � Animal Husbandry and Veterinary, Cooperation, Environment and Forest, Excise, Information and Public Relations, Panchayat and Rural Development, Labour Welfare, Social Welfare and Urban Development � of the State government had submitted partial reports without covering all the public authorities under them.
So the Commission, in the report, strongly recommended action against those departments on charges of violation of the Act.
Commenting on the lack of a proper system to maintain various records of the government, the report said, �Report keeping by various public authorities under the State Government seems to be in a very poor state. Reports of missing, untraceable or lost files and records are too common and frequent. Maintenance of Record Rooms by the head of the concerned office and its periodic inspection by the first appellate authority may be made mandatory.�
Furthermore, the annual report observed that the participation of women in filing RTI applications is comparatively very less in both urban and rural areas of Assam. Moreover, RTI applications from rural areas are much less than those from the urban areas, it added.