The DoPT has recently uploaded the second installment of guidelines for implementing the proactive disclosure obligations under Section 4(1)(b) of the Right to Information Act, 2005 (1st attachment). These guidelines have been circulated to the States. Readers will remember that the DoPT constituted a Task Force in April 2011 to come up with Guidelines for implementing Section 4(1)(b) of the RTI Act. Civil Society Organisations and senior government representatives were part of this Task Force. The first set of guidelines was publicised in April this year (2nd attachment). The DoPT deserves to be congratulated for completing the long-pending work of the Task Force before the end of the year.
The latest set of guidelines focus on practical guidelines for disclosing information about crucial social development programmes at the State level. These will be applicable from the village panchayat level up to the Secretariat level in each State. The DoPT has specifically addressed a letter to the Chief Secretaries seeking their involvement in the use of these guidelines to implement the proactive disclosure obligations of public authorities under the RTI Act. I think the mandate of the Task Force is fulfilled with the publication of this new set of guidelines. However the more difficult task of securing compliance with these guidelines starts now. This is where citizens, the media and civil society actors have to roll up their sleeves to make access to information a living reality for the people of India. Implementing these guidelines in an effective manner has the potential for reducing the number of RTI applications from people who seek the categories of information specified in the guidelines.
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Access to Information Programme
Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative
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New Delhi- 110 017
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