Some activists claims that after six months of the Omar Abdullah government in Jammu and Kashmir brought out the J&K Right to Information (JKRTI) Act 2009, but till now it remains a non-starter.
The state government has not set up an information commission as yet and several government departments have not appointed Public Information Officers.
Initially, the state government showed a lot of promise towards making RTI a success, but it is not the same now. The act is beset with infrastructural problems in the state.
The JKRTI Act 2009, prepared on the lines of the central RTI Act 2005, came into force in March replacing the 2004 act and the J&K RTI (amendment) Act 2008.
The common problem people are facing in J&K that the government has as yet not appointed Public Information Officers (PIOs) in several departments. Whenever people go to submit their RTI application, the government officials tell them, ‘Come later when a PIO is appointed’.
The government has not even appointed the Information Commission as yet, which is a very important part of the RTI act.
The most discouraging part is the high fees people have to shell out for the RTI application and for photocopying documents.
Under the J&K act, an applicant has to give Rs.50 as application fee as compared to Rs.10 under the central RTI Act. And for photocopies of documents, they have to shell out Rs.10 per page as compared to Rs.2 under the central act.
The government is also not creating awareness among the people about the act and it has not even conducted any training programme for its officials. Mostly Government officials are ignorant about key provisions of the RTI act.
Activists also alleged that as per the act, reply to an RTI application has to be made within 30 days. But in J&K an official generally takes 50-60 days, which is completely unfair.
However, the state government denies there are any problems with implementing RTI.
Khawaja Farooq Renzu, director (information) with the Jammu and Kashmir government, told that “Our government is very active on RTI and transparency is the slogan of our chief minister. It is wrong to say that our government is not doing anything on RTI. Our RTI act is working completely fine. Even in his first speech after taking over, our chief minister underlined the importance of RTI.”