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CHRI appreciates move but prays for some changes
HC notifies RTI rules
6/17/2015 11:49:07 PM
Early Times Report
Srinagar, June 17: New Delhi based Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), an NGO working on Access to Information, Prison and Police reforms programmes in India and many countries of commonwealth has welcomed the move of Jammu & Kashmir High Court for notifying its own rules as per the mandate of the J&K RTI Act 2009.
It prayed the High Court to make some changes in the notified rules so as to make them more people friendly. Pertinent to mention that J&K High Court notified its own rules in April 2015 as per the mandate of section 2 (a) of J&K RTI Act 2009. The High court made these rules after a gap of 6 years since J&K RTI Act 2009 was enacted.
CHRI welcomes the initiative taken by Jammu and Kashmir High Court for notifying the Right to Information Rules, 2014 (J&K HC-RTI Rules) in April 2015 for detailing the procedures for seeking and obtaining information from the judiciary.
CHRI appreciates the notification of additional fee rates at the lower benchmarks that have been set in the J&K RTI Rules notified by the J&K State Government in 2012. The provision of easy-to-use formats for seeking and obtaining information as well as making decisions by the designated authorities are also welcome. The requirement of the first appellate authority to give the Appellant a hearing before deciding a first appeal is also welcome as it is in tune with the principle of natural justice.
The J&K HC-RTI Rules have been notified by the Chief Justice as the competent authority under Section 25 read with Section 2(b) of the RTI Act. Section 2(b)(ii) makes it clear that Chief Justice will be the 'competent authority' for the purpose of the J&K High Court. A plain reading of this provision indicates that the competent authority may make RTI Rules only for the J&K High Court. As regards the subordinate Courts it is the Governor of the J&K who is the competent authority for the purpose of making Rules - given the plain meaning of the phrase - "in the case of other authorities established or constituted by or under the Constitution of India or the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir" as is provided in Section 2(b)(iii).
CHRI has recommended that Rules containing reproductions of the provisions of the principal Act or a summary thereof may be deleted in order to avoid confusion while implementing the law.
CHRI and local civil society organisations in J&K like J&K RTI Movement , Fallah Foundation and Centre for Rural Development have also recommended that J&K HC-RTI Rules be translated into the official languages of J&K and publicised for greater outreach. As many people living in J&K are not conversant with English, such a measure would demystify the information access procedures relating to the judiciary.
CHRI has also recommended that the Registry of the Hon'ble High Court should invite suggestions from the general public on the subject.
Wajahat Habibullah former Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) has also written to J&K Chief Justice authenticating the CHRI's recomendations.
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