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Oct 12, 2009

Seeking information is people’s fundamental right


Seeking information on the functioning of the government is a fundamental right of people, said State Information Commissioner G. Ramakrishnan on Saturday.He was speaking at a programme organised by the Rotary Club of Coimbatore Spectrum and Coimbatore Human Rights Forum (CHRF) to mark the Right to Information Act Awareness Generation Week.

Mr. Ramakrishnan said the Right to Information Act was in force in 57 countries and it was 31 simple, but strong sections in the nature of legislation.People’s fight for a legislation on the lines of Right to Information began in 1975. After a long struggle, the Act came into being in 2005.

Every government department was governed by rules and separate set of legislations and the Right to Information Act was superior to all such legislations.The objective of the Act was to ensure transparency in the functioning of the government, he added.The Act also equipped people with the power to seek information and monitor the quality of construction in infrastructure generation activities thereby coming down substantially on corrupt practices and deterioration in quality.

The Act also gave powers for perusing the files of the government departments.“In any government department, if the required information is not provided within 30 days of application, the applicant can go to the Principal Information Officer in the office.“And in the event of no response, the applicant can approach the State Information Commission. The Commission will write to the respective department and in the event of lack of proper response, the Commission will direct the Information Officer to pay Rs. 25,000 as penalty and will also order for compensation to the applicant,” Mr. Ramakrishnan said.

The State Information Commissioner also said that applications seeking totally unwanted information were being disposed off at the appeal stage itself.Mr. Ramakrishan and District Collector P. Umanath released the Right to Information Act handout in English and Tamil on the occasion.

Coimbatore Human Rights Forum Trustee S. Kannan and Chairperson V.P. Sarathi took part.

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