•  Spread the word
 •  Contact the author Karnataka preparing for national RTI
Anuradha Rao

27 July 2005

On 4 July, R. Suresh, the officer in charge of the Karnataka Right to Information Act (KRIA) admitted that the Act had failed in achieving its goals and it would be replaced with the new Central Act recently passed by the Parliament. R Suresh is the Principal Secretary, Department of Personnel and Administrative Reforms (DPAR). Interacting with media persons in Mysore, he acknowledged the flaws of in the Karnataka Right to Information Act (KRIA) and warned officers of the consequences if they failed to discharge their duties under the upcoming national Right to Information (NRTI) law.

With his statement, the uncertainty and debate over whether Karnataka would repeal KRIA has come to an end. Unlike in Maharashtra, activists in Karnataka are not unhappy with this turn of events. KRIA fares poorly vis-à-vis NRTI in comparison. There are several lacunae in KRIA, including absence of penalties on errant officers, cumbersome procedures in approaching the final appellate body (Karnataka Administrative Tribunal) for redress, limited definition of “information”, etc. They have resulted in a lax implementation of the state law. The Karnataka government had not made any special efforts to spread public awareness about KRIA. Since the majority of Karnataka’s citizens do not know about KRIA, it could be argued that the transition to a new national law would be relatively smooth.

In light of Suresh’s remarks, the Bangalore based Public Affairs Centre (PAC) had requested the Chief Secretary, K K Misra, to provide an official explanation on the government’s stance regarding NRTI. In a workshop organised by PAC earlier this month, Misra had stated that the government had taken an in-principle decision to withdraw KRIA and that it would put forth this recommendation to the legislative assembly and legislative council.

In a letter to Dr A Ravindra, Director, PAC, dated July 18, 2005, Suresh has provided details of the state government’s preparation for implementing NRTI. He says that a high level committee has been constituted under the chairmanship of the Chief Secretary to monitor the implementation of the new national Act. The committee, which consists of all Additional Chief Secretaries, Principal Secretaries and Secretaries to Government, has already held two meetings in June 2005.

Secretaries have been requested to conduct weekly meetings in their departments and to expedite various steps on top priority. The Act stipulates that certain provisions, notably proactive disclosure mechanisms, shall come into force at once, and the remaining provisions must be in place on the 120th day of its enactment, which comes around in mid-October, 2005. The state government has begun to draft rules (for usage of the Act) which would be finalised shortly. Suresh's letter also says the state government has initiated action to constitute the State Information Commission. A circular issued by the Chief Secretary dated June 20, 2005 ends on a cautionary note: any lapse on the part of the officers in effectuating the provisions of the RTI Act would make them liable to disciplinary action and penalties under the Act.

Citizens groups in Bangalore have already expressed the need for greater citizen involvement in the preparations for NRTI. Members of the KRIA Katte, a forum working to energise the right to information, have requested that the DPAR involve civil society groups during the framing of the rules and in the selection of members of the State Information Commission.

Anuradha Rao
27 Jul 2005

Anuradha Rao is with the Public Affairs Centre, a Bangalore based non-goverment organisation that has been involved with assessing the Karnataka Right to Information law. She is also a member of the KRIA Katte.

Citizen Direct is India Together's channel for publishing reports from citizens who have detailed information about specific civil society concerns and matters, by virtue of their participation, association, or independent observation. These reports are therefore as witnessed and understood by the authors themselves; India Together accepts no liability or responsibility for them.   More

 •  Spread the word
 •  Contact the author

Post your comment below, or View Existing Comments (0)

Post a comment
Note: Your post will appear within 24 hours unless found inappropriate (spam, netabuse).
See policy

Remember personal info?

For verification, please enter the security code you see below

Note: Your post will appear within 24 hours unless found inappropriate (spam, netabuse). See policy


Post your comment