J&K, Ladakh RTI cases hearing by CIC from May 15: Dr Jitendra Singh

NEW DELHI: The hearing of Right To Information (RTI) cases from the Union Territories of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh by the Central Information Commission (CIC) will start from May 15. On behalf of the CIC, Senior Information Commissioner D.P. Sinha has been entrusted the responsibility of the RTIs from the two new Union Territories.

This was disclosed here today by Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh, after a meeting with the Chief Information Commissioner Bimal Julka, who called on the Minister to update him on the issue.

Lest there should be any room for any misgiving, Dr Jitendra Singh said that the applicants from J&K and Ladakh can file RTI applications from home and no one will have to travel outside the UT for filing or for hearing or at any stage of the entire process. Infact, this will help the the two UTs of J&K and Ladakh to usher in a new culture of "Justice from Home", he said.

Applicants from both the UTs can file the first appeal before the local designated officers and can avail the facility of On-line hearing from home for the second appeal before the CIC. Moreover, the RTI applicants can file their application On-line anytime during the 24 hours, day or night, and from anywhere including from home.

The Minister also informed that any citizen of India can now file RTI pertaining to matters related to J&K and Ladakh, which right was earlier reserved only for the State Subjects or domicile citizens of the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir which had its own RTI Act before August 2019.

It is pertinent to mention here that consequent to the passing of J&K Reorganisation Act, 2019, the J&K Right to Information Act 2009 and the Rules there under were repealed and Right to Information Act 2005 of India and the Rules there under were made applicable from 31st October 2019.

Dr Jitendra Singh stated that concerted efforts for smooth transition from the J&K RTI Act 2009 to the Central RTI Act were undertaken taken by DoPT ( Department of Personnel & Training) and Central Information Commission, in consultation with the union Ministry of Home Affairs. He also informed that till 10th May, 2020, 111 second appeals/complaints ( fresh cases) from the UT of J&K had been registered in the CIC consequent to the Reorganisation Act, 2019.

Training of CPIOs and FAAs is being planned and registration/alignment of Public Authorities of Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh on RTI online portal of DoPT is also being taken up.

Despite the Lockdown situation, at present, all the Information Commissioners are hearing cases and the CIC headquarters are functioning with 33% official staff. Senior Information Commissioners are hearing cases from the office over video conferencing.


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