CUK’s convergent journalism, law deptt hold function on RTI Act
Srinagar, Mar 18: Former Jammu and Kashmir State Chief Information Commissioner (CIC), Mr. G. R. Sufi today said the institutions, departments and other agencies, receiving RTI applications, should ensure prompt response to the applicants, without inordinate delays.
“The delay in providing the requisite information to the applicant defeats the very purpose of the RTI Act,” Mr. G. R. Sufi said while addressing the faculty and students of the Department of Convergent Journalism and Law, during a function, observing 7-years of RTI Act, organised jointly by the aforementioned departments at Nowgam-I academic block of the University.
Dean School of Media Studies, Prof. S. Fayyaz, Head Department of Law, Dr. Sheikh Showkat, Director Directorate of Students Welfare, Dr. Fayaz A Nikka, Coordinator, Department of Convergent Journalism, Mr. Asif Khan, RTI Activist, Dr. Raja Muzaffar Bhat, and other faculty members were also present.
Highlighting the importance and use of the Right to Information Act, Mr. G R Sufi said the Right to Information Act (RTI) has been introduced in the Jammu and Kashmir to bring more transparency and accountability in the Governance and the working of other institutions. The RTI Act is a powerful tool which should be utilized to make the Government answerable, he said.
Mr. Sufi asked the people, especially the students and other stakeholders to proactively use the Act in seeking information in order to get their grievances redressed. “The Act is also used by the media persons in order to seek correct information after they receive complaints about alleged irregularities and scams in government departments and other institutions,” he said.
Mr. Sufi also emphasized the need of immediately appointing the State Chief Information Commissioner for J&K, the post, which fell vacant, after his term ended.
RTI Activist, Dr. Raja Muzaffar Bhat while speaking on the occasion said that “there are many Government departments who have denied to share information to RTI applicants and when the information seekers challenged their orders before State Information Commission, the Public Information Officers of these departments gave the same statement before Information Commission as well. As SIC is not an investigating agency, the matter could not be probed. SIC could only demand an affidavit from the public authorities , and many PIO’s gave in writing on an affidavit that their record got damaged , but till date not a single high level committee has been constituted to probe it,”.
He appealed to the Governor, Mr. N N Vohra to hold a round table on strengthening J&K Right to Information Act. “All the stake holders should be invited and a clear direction has to be given to the Government for ensuring voluntary / proactive disclosure of information through official websites,” he added.
Head Department of Law, Dr. Sheikh Showkat, said the RTI is a potent tool in the hands of students, researchers and masses, who can make everyone accountable, by using it. “However, the implementation of the Act is a distant dream, unless and until the people are made aware about its utility,” he said and underscored the need of translating the Act in Urdu, the official language of Jammu and Kashmir.
Dean School of Media Studies, Prof. S. Fayyaz, asked the students to aware the masses about the advantages of the Act. “The students can play a pivotal role in implementing the Act by creating awareness among masses about the benefits of the Act,” he said while proposing the vote of thanks.
Welcoming the guests, Coordinator, Department of Convergent Journalism, Mr. Asif Khan, said, “RTI is imperative to media given its power to provide access to information. Media powered with right to information can address issues of society.” He added that the department has ensured RTI component in the course so to aware students of journalism about it.
Assistant Prof. Mr. Rashid Maqbool conducted the programme proceedings.