New Delh: Union Minister Jitendra Singh on Monday said that the Right to Information (RTI) can be filed locally in the Union Territories (UTs) of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh even after the new arrangement comes into existence from October 31.
In a statement, Singh denounced as “mischievous rumours” that the applicant will have to travel to Delhi to file an RTI as Jammu and Kashmir will become a UT.
Following a detailed discussion on the issue with Central Information Commissioner Sudhir Bhargava, Singh said certain vested elements continue to instigate different kinds of misgivings in the society, in a bid to disrupt the initiative by the Narendra Modi-led government.
“During the last five years, after Modi took over as Prime Minister, the procedures to file an RTI appeal have been immensely simplified and definite timelines have been laid down. This will apply equally as much to Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh after these become Union territories,” Singh said.
He said that the first RTI application is made to the Public Information Officer (PIO) locally and in matters involving “life and liberty,” the time limit for the PIO to provide the information is 48 hours.
For the PIO to reply to the application, a timeline of 30 days has been laid down from the date of receipt of the application. For an applicant to make the first appeal after the receipt of PIO’s reply, the first Appellate authority in the form of the designated officer will also be available locally, whether it is the state or UT.
“Only in the case of the second appeal, the application has to be submitted to the Information Commission and even if the Information Commissioner is not available locally, in case of Union territory, the second appeal can be sent to the Central Information Commission on-line within 90 days from the receipt of the first appeal orders or from the date the orders were to be received,” Singh elaborated.
To make the procedure much simpler, he said, the government made use of the modern technology and in a major breakthrough provided the facility of making the second appeal before the Central Information Commission through a portal.
The Union Minister said after the reorganisation of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, the citizens’ participation will increase manifold and various provisions in public administration will become far more citizen-centric with the extension of uniformed central laws, as applicable in the rest of the country.