Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on Wednesday said the effective use of the Right to Information Act (RTI) will help in building a developed and corruption free country as envisioned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Inaugurating the 15th Annual Convention of Central Information Commission (CIC), the Speaker said the main aim of the RTI Act is empowering citizens, bringing transparency, getting system rid of corruption and taking democracy to the people of the country in the true sense.
Addressing the two-day convention titled "Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav: Citizen – centric Governance through RTI", Minister of state for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, Jitendra Singh said the non-domiciles and non-State subjects of Jammu and Kashmir will also now be entitled to file RTI related on issues related to Union Territory (UT) or agencies.
Lauding the Commission for hearing petitions from newly carved out Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh during the peak of Covid lockdown, the minister said applicants from the UTs filed RTI applications from homes.
When Jammu and Kashmir was a state, appeals and complaints under the RTI were heard by the State Information Commission but after it was split into UTs--Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh--the cases were shifted to the CIC.
Singh said despite the challenges posed by the unprecedented pandemic situation, earnest efforts were made by the CIC and SICs to dispose of RTI second appeals and complaints and some Commissions even exceeded pre-pandemic figures of disposal during certain periods.
He also mentioned that June 2020 saw higher disposal of cases in CIC in comparison to pre-pandemic year of 2019.
The minister said this became possible due to the innovative approach of shifting into virtual mode for hearing and disposal of cases.
He said transparency, accountability and citizen-centricity are the hallmark of the government led by Prime Minister Modi.
Singh said the RTI Act is not a stand alone law, but it is part of the larger narrative of strengthening Indian democracy, ensuring transparency in governance and building capacities of the common citizen to enable him to take informed decisions and choices.
"Above all, it is about nurturing the trust between citizen and the state where both must have faith in each other," the Minister said.
The minister said the CIC has reduced the pendency of cases from 38,116 in 2020-21 to 23,405 cases in the year 2021-22.
Singh cautioned against indiscriminate filing of RTI application and appealed the citizens to check before filing if the desired information already exists in the public domain or not.
He elaborated that today all major decisions and information are in the public domain and "we have achieved transparency with credibility".