Published On: Mon, Nov 7th, 2016

Union Home Minister Shri Rajnath Singh inaugurates 11th Annual Convention of CIC

14992070_10154010491983837_7792305527595431407_nNew Delhi: Union Home Minister Shri Rajnath Singh inaugurated the 2-day 11th Annual Convention of Central Information Commission (CIC) here today.

While delivering the inaugural address, Shri Rajnath Singh said that Right to Information (RTI) Act is a powerful medium of two-way communication between the citizens and the Government. On the one hand, the citizens get information through this act and on the other hand, the Government gets new ideas for formulating people-friendly policy and to reform the governance system, when people ask such information. The Government system should use it effectively, he added. He also said that our system needs to be corruption-free, smart, sensitive, transparent and answerable for making all the programmes of the Government a success and RTI can play an important role in it. RTI Act provides a strong foundation to the feeling of trust and cooperation which is important for the governance based upon trust.

Shri Rajnath Singh said that programmes like ‘My Gov.in’ website provide a platform for two-way communication between the Government and the citizens. This benefits both – the citizens and the Government, he added. He also said that the ‘Top-down’ approach is now getting converted into ‘Bottom-up’ approach. The Home Minister said that now maximum possible information is being made available on the websites of Government departments and agencies. This transformation has gained momentum after the advent of RTI Act. He also recalled that the Prime Minister had said last year that the dream of ‘Digital India’ is closely linked with the transparent government. This means that the maximum information the Government makes available online, the transparency of the Government increases to that extent. The Union Home Minister also emphasised on the need of an ‘Integrated Response System’, where every citizen has a Single Window to reach the Government for fulfilment of his needs.

During the day, the Convention had arranged four technical sessions covering various aspects of institutional governance in India and its implications on RTI.

The technical session on RTI in Railways was chaired by Shri Bimal Julka, Information Commissioner and Shri Amitava Bhattacharyya, Information Commissioner along with Shri Mohd. Jamshed, Member (Traffic), Ministry of Railways. The speakers from Railways mainly stressed on proactive disclosure under section 4 of the Act to minimise the use of public resources in information dissemination.

The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) convened a session on the RTI online web portal. This portal is expected to cover almost half the public authorities in near future.

Another technical session on RTI in Public Sector Undertakings was chaired by Shri Sudhir Bhargava, Information Commissioner and Shri Divya Prakash Sinha, Information Commissioner along with Dr. U.D Choubey, Director General, SCOPE. In this session PSUs namely National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC), Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL), Rajasthan Electronics & Instruments Limited (REIL) and South Eastern Coalfields Limited (SECL) deliberated on key issues concerning the implementation of the RTI Act in their respective Public Sector Undertakings.

Today’s last technical session on RTI in Regulators such as RBI and IRDAI, Banks and Insurance companies was chaired by Shri Sharat Sabharwal, Information Commissioner and Smt. Manjula Prasher, Information Commissioner. In this session, the deliberations were centred on the broad channels of public interaction by banks in the country and the mediums of dissemination of information related to public at large which consists of branch network, press releases, digital signage, town hall meetings etc.

The technical sessions broadly focussed on the status of RTI implementation in Railways, PSUs and the Financial Sector public authorities and their efforts towards ensuring timely and accurate replies, improvements in suo- motu disclosures, use of technology to expedite processes and governance reforms based on analysis of RTI requests.

Tomorrow, Academic papers on topics like Success and Failure of the Right to Information Act, Harnessing IT for RTI in an Institute of Higher Learning, RTI as an instrument of Change, Right to Petition to Right to Information etc. will be discussed.

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