HYDERABAD:The Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation is among the top three dodgers of the Right to Information Act by not providing appropriate information sought under the Act.
The other two are the Andhra Pradesh State Wakf Board and the department of education.
Ever since the Act came into force in 2005, there has been an increasing awareness among the citizens about the right to information, an ultimate tool to question the actions of government officials. Though most government officials are complying with the Act, there are still several who seem to be uninterested in RTI. Public information officers, who do not abide by the law, can be penalised as per the norms of the Right to Information Act.
According to sources, the Andhra Pradesh Information Commission has levied a fine of about `2 lakh on officials of Wakf Board, `1.7 lakh on education department and about `1.4 lakh on Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation for not complying with the Act during 2009-14.
RTI activists feel that the Act is not being properly enforced by government departments. “Section 4 (1) of RTI Act allows government departments to disclose all the information even before someone files an RTI application. It is unfortunate that none of the departments is following it,” said V Venkateswara Rao, convener of Social Audit Council on Information Right.
“When a department hesitates to disclose information, it is indeed a matter of concern,” he said, adding, “It asks the applicant to question the intention, structure and function of the department. If they really have the attitude of being accountable to the public, do you not think they should adopt the RTI Act?,” he asked.
Rao said imposition of fines had little effect on departments. “As far as the Act is concerned, there is no pressurising factor on officials. Fines act as a binding force between two parties. Not only the public information officers but also other officials should be under the radar of the Act,” he said.