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Centre asks departments to publish most sought-after RTI info

Seeking to reduce Right to Information applications, all central government departments have been asked to put in public domain information that is frequently sought by citizens under the RTI Act.

Centre asks departments to publish most sought-after RTI info
Right To Information (RTI)

New Delhi

They have also been asked to set up 'Information and Facilitation Centres' (IFCs) to provide printed publications to citizens mentioning the categories of information that are frequently being sought under the RTI.

The latest directive is based on the recommendations of a committee formed by the government to look into the scope of suo motu disclosure of governance-related information by the central government departments.

The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) has asked each public authority to set up a committee comprising officials with rich experience of dealing with RTI applications and appeals to identify the categories of such information.

"Such information must be disclosed in the public domain to make it more user-friendly and should also be reviewed at regular intervals," it said in an order to all ministries.

The DoPT has said the task of undertaking transparency audits may be given to the respective training institutes under each ministry or department and across the states and union territories.

The public authorities shall constitute consultative committees consisting of office-bearers of key stakeholder, association on rotational basis to have a systematic and regular interaction between the officials of the public authorities to advice what information to be uploaded as suo motu, it said.

The IFCs may be set up in each public authority, where public dealing is involved to educate the citizens about the information or documents available on the website of the department concerned and to provide printed publications to them the categories of information that are frequently being sought under the RTI Act and provide copies of information as per RTI rules, the order said.

Information on the website must be organised in form of searchable and retrievable database to enable people to access the records. The nodal officer of each public authority should be made responsible for this, the DoPT said.

It said that website and other medium and publication of each public authority, relating to Section 4 (which deals in voluntary disclosure of governance-linked information) compliance must carry the date (where appropriate for each bit of information) on which the information was uploaded or printed.

A committee of experts consisting of AN Tiwari, former Chief Information Commissioner and MM Ansari, Information Commissioner of Central Information Commission was constituted to recommend, inter alia, measures to further strengthen implementation of Section 4 of the RTI Act, 2005.

The committee had submitted its report which was accepted by the government and an order was issued in June last year to all public authorities to follow its recommendations.

Thereafter, DoPT has issued instructions to all public authorities in that they must make an analysis of information which is sought most often from applicants and provide it on their website as suo motu disclosure.

The RTI Act empowers a citizen to seek time-bound reply to their query on governance-related matters.

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