Dispelling the misleading statements by some fringe elements and unauthenticated reports in a section of media, Union Minister Dr Jitendra Singh, who is also Minister In-charge DoPT (Department of Personnel & Training), which is the nodal ministry for Information Commission, categorically stated here today that all the Jammu & Kashmir related RTI applications will be dealt by Central Information Commission (CIC) and that there will be no separate Information Commission for the Union Territories of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh.
“A notification in this regard will be issued soon extending the jurisdiction of Central Information Commission to Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh, on the same pattern as is being followed in other Union Territories of India,” said Dr Jitendra Singh and added that the senior officials of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs and DoPT are working on it.
Refuting reports that there is ambiguity regarding the handling and disposal of RTI applications after Jammu & Kashmir became a Union Territory, Dr Jitendra Singh said, all the provisions of the Central RTI Act will soon come into force in the newly carved out Union Territory. He said, with the introduction of new Central RTI Act, there will be more effective and transparent disposal of RTI applications and at the same time this will be a uniform law as being practised in the rest of the country.
At the same time, Dr Jitendra Singh said, the significant difference now is that while as per the RTI Act of the erstwhile State of Jammu & Kashmir, only the State subjects of Jammu & Kashmir could file an RTI application about J&K, now the right to file an RTI application related to Jammu & Kashmir government or public bodies is available to each and every citizen of India, regardless of whether he belongs to Jammu & Kashmir or not. This is a natural sequel to the abrogation of Article 370 and the conversion of the State into Union Territory, he added.
Reiterating that there will be no inconvenience to the general public or RTI applicants in particular, Dr Jitendra Singh said, at the lower level the RTI application is to be submitted to the Public Information Officer available locally and only the second appellate authority is Central Information Commission, for which an appeal can be filed on-line. In case of Union Territories, if required, he said, interaction with the appellant is also conducted through video conferencing by the Central Information Commission.