Central governments Department of Personnel & Training has recently sent a office memorandum to all central Public Authorities regarding Implementation of suo motu disclosure under Section 4 of RTI Act. The DoPT has agreed that there is lot of information in public domain, but the quality and quantity of proactive disclosure is not up to the desired level. To find solution on this government had constituted a Task Force on suo motu disclosure under the RTI Act. Based on the report of the Task Force, the Government have decided to issue guidelines for suo motu disclosure.
As per these guidelines,
1) Information relating to procurement made by Public Authorities including publication of notice/tender enquiries, corrigenda thereon, and details of bid awards detailing the name of the supplier of goods/services being procured or the works contracts entered or any such combination of these and the rate and total amount at which such procurement or works contract is to be done should be disclosed.
2) If Public services are proposed to be provided through a Public Private Partnership (PPP), all information relating to the PPPs must be disclosed in the public domain by the Public Authority entering into the PPP contract/concession agreement.
3) Transfer policy for different grades/cadres of employees serving in Public Authority should be proactively disclosed.
4) All Public Authorities shall proactively disclose RTI applications and appeals received and their responses, on the websites maintained by Public Authorities with search facility based on key words.
5) Public Authorities may proactively disclose the CAG & PAC paras and the Action Taken Reports (ATRs) only after these have been laid on the table of both the houses of the Parliament.
6) Citizens Charter prepared by the Ministry/Department, as part of the Result Framework Document of the department/organization should be proactively disclosed and six monthly reports on the performance against the benchmarks set in Citizens Charter should be displayed on the website of public authorities.
7) All discretionary /non-discretionary grants/ allocations to state governments/ NGOs/Other institutions by Ministry/Department should be placed on the website of the Ministry/Department concerned.
8) Public Authorities may proactively disclose the details of foreign and domestic official tours undertaken by the Minister(s) and officials of the rank of Joint Secretary to the Government of India and above and Heads of Departments, since 1st January 2012. The disclosures may be updated once every quarter. . Information to be disclosed proactively may contain nature of the official tour, places visited, the period, number of people included in the official delegation and total cost of such travel undertaken.
No doubt, this is commendable step taken by the government. Still there is lot to do. Lot of another information covered under section 4 about which said office memorandum does not say anything. Venkatesh nayak of Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative has send a letter regarding that to DoPT .
As well as this office memorandum does not mention anything about the dissemination information related to section 4(1) (C) and (D) .As per these sections Public Authorities have to publish all relevant facts while formulating important policies or announcing the decisions that affect public; and provide reasons for its administrative or quasi-judicial decisions to affected persons.
Now with this office memorandum central government has moved one-step ahead towards transparency. However, big question is whether all the Public authorities will follow these guidelines? Now and again governments come with new amendments, acts, orders. Ordinances and office memorandums. However, we have largely seen unhealthy approach of babus towards them. Last seven years experience is not so good; however let us hope for the good.