October 21st, 2015
Originally Published On Factly | Author: Rakesh Dubbudu
The Right to Information Act (RTI) has completed 10 years and even the Prime Minister acknowledged its role in bringing about a transformation in governance. One part of the RTI legislation that hasn’t attracted enough attention by the government is the Section 4 disclosures. Despite repeated reminders by the Department of Personnel & Training (DoPT), many government departments are yet to implement Section 4 of the RTI act in Toto. Section 4 of the RTI act mandates government departments (public authorities) to proactively disclose certain information, so that the need for filing an application would come down. Some of information in Section 4 is immensely helpful to the common man. On the 10th anniversary, Factly analysed the Section 4 disclosures made by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and the various Chief Minister Offices (CMOs) since they are the highest seats of power in the country.
What about the PMO?
The PMO has a dedicated RTI page on the portal. This page has the following major details
- Details of Public Information Officer (PIO) etc
- Details of Foreign & Domestic Tours of the PM along with expenditure
- Details of assets/liabilities of the Union Cabinet members
It has some other information and the information is available both in English & Hindi. But the Section 4 disclosures are absent even on the PMO website.
Factly has analysed the CMO websites of 29 States & 2 UTs (Delhi & Puducherry) that have a CM. Following aspects were analysed for these 31 States/UTs
- Whether CMO has a dedicated website?
- Whether the details under the various provisions of RTI are present on the website?
- Whether proactive disclosures under Sec 4 of the RTI act are made on the website?
- If disclosures are made, are they available in the local language?
- If there is no dedicated website, are disclosures made elsewhere?
Dedicated Website for the CMO
Out of the 31 States/UTs, only 20 (65%) of them have a dedicated website for the CMO. Surprisingly 11 (35%) States/UTs do not have a dedicated website for the CMO including states like Punjab, Maharashtra, Delhi and Tamil Nadu. Some CMs have personal websites, but do not have an official website for the CMO.
It is surprising that even in this age of Digital India, the Chief Minister, who is the executive head of the state, does not have a dedicated website.
RTI related information on the dedicated websites
Out of the 20 States/UTs with a dedicated website, 12 (60%) of them do not have any information on RTI. States like Gujarat, Sikkim, Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Jharkhand, and Haryana are part of this list.
Only 8 states (40%) have RTI information on the CMO website namely Jammu & Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Odisha, Karnataka & Kerala.
RTI related information of the CMO on the Government Websites
Even taking those states into consideration that do not have a dedicated website for the CMO, only 14 (45%) of them had RTI details of the CMO on the official government website. In other words, 6 states that did not have a dedicated website for the CMO still had RTI details of the CMO in some other government website. Out of the 14 States/UTs with RTI details, only 9 of them (29%) had details of the Public Information Officer (PIO) and the Assistant Public Information Officer (APIO), the nodal officers in charge of RTI implementation in government departments.
Proactive Disclosure of the CMO
Only 5 States (16%) had proactive disclosure of the CMO, on the website, as mandated under Section 4 of the RTI. These five states are Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka. Only in one out of every 6 States, the CMO has made proactive disclosure as mandated by the RTI act even after 10 years.
Within these five states, Jammu & Kashmir and Punjab CMOs have made their disclosure only in English. In Maharashtra, the disclosure was made only in the local language. In Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka, the disclosure was made in both English & the local language.
Which State does best?
The CMO of Uttar Pradesh does best as far as RTI disclosure is concerned. The disclosures are detailed and are available in both English and Hindi. In the other 4 states that have made proactive disclosure of the CMO, some of the details are outdated.
What does this mean?
It is disappointing to note that the highest seats of the power (PMO & CMOs) are themselves guilty of not implementing the RTI act. They are expected to stand as the right example to other departments and not the other way. We only hope that the PMO and the CMOs take this exercise seriously and make the full proactive disclosure at the earliest.
Written by- Rakesh Dubbudu