HC directs Govt to comply with ‘voluntary disclosure’, other clauses in RTI Act

Srinagar: Directing the government to strictly adhere to the mandate of the Jammu and Kashmir Right to Information (RTI) Act 2009 in letter and spirit, the state High Court (HC) said authorities should comply with all the clauses of the act, particularly with section 4, which calls for voluntary disclosure of information by all its departments.

The directions were made by a division bench of Justice Ali Muhammad Magrey and Justice Sanjeev Kumar while disposing off a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by J&K Right to Information Movement through its counsel, Shafaqat Nazir.

The PIL had sought directions to the government to make “suo-moto and proactive” disclosure of all available/permissible information through official websites and other modes prescribed under law.

The PIL stated that section 4 of the J&K RTI Act makes it obligatory and compulsory for all the public authorities operating in the state to make the suo-moto and proactive disclosure of all the permissible information available with them within a period of 120 days from the date of commencement of the Act.

It said the Act came into force on March 20, 2009, meaning thereby that the public authorities in Jammu and Kashmir were expected to comply with the provision of the law.

The PIL further stated that almost all the public authorities operating under the administrative control of the respondents have “miserably failed to satisfy the requirements of the law”.

Meanwhile, Additional Advocate General M A Chashoo, on behalf of the government, submitted that there shall be no difficulty for the government to adhere to the instructions and directions contained in the Act.

“It being so, we dispose of this Public Interest Litigation with a direction to the respondents to strictly adhere to the mandate of the J&K Right to Information Act, 2009, in letter and spirit, particularly section 4 of the Act,” the Court said while observing that no useful purpose can be achieved by keeping the PIL pending before it.

However, the court said in the event the petitioner was unsatisfied with any action on the part of any government department; he shall be at liberty to approach the appropriate forum for seeking redressal of grievances.

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