Sunday, October 5, 2008

Video conferencing vital for RTI: CIC

Video conferencing vital for RTI: CIC

Indo-Asian News Service

Sunday, October 05, 2008, (New Delhi): Decentralising the Central Information Commission (CIC) is not the way to clear the pending backlog of appeals and complaints, says India's Right to Information (RTI) chief.

"I don't think decentralising is the answer. Video conferencing is a better option and will work far better," Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah said.

"If we decentralise, we will have to set up offices, arrange accommodation and other facilities like transport for the information commissioners and for that also a huge amount of money will have to be spent," he added.

The Right To Information Act was passed by Parliament in 2005 for promoting transparency and accountability in the system.

According to Habibullah, "Decentralisation would also lead to breakdown of coordination between Public Information officers."

"The RTI Act emphasises the use of electronic means, and video conferencing is a revolutionary system of information technology. For RTI, the next step at CIC is the introduction of video conferencing, which is inexpensive and quite efficient," he said.

"Earlier we were using the video conferencing facility at the National Informatics Centre. But it was not always available due to which a lot of our hearings were cancelled," Habibullah explained.

He said that video conferencing facility was available now at one of the CIC offices.

"We have divided time between all information commissioners at the office to use that facility. I am slowly looking towards all information commissioners having their own video conferencing facility so that they don't even have to use it by turn," Habibullah added.

He further stated that whenever there is a huge backlog of cases at a particular place, the information commissioners travel to those places for a few days and hold hearings.

"Chandigarh and Puducherry are just some of the examples," Habibullah added.


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The RTI Act was passed by the Lok Sabha (Lower House) on 11 May 2005, by the Raj Sabha (Upper House) on 12 May 2005 and received Presidential assent on 15 June 2005. Parts of the Act came into force upon Presidential assent, but the Act came fully into force on 12 October 2005, 120 days after Presidential assent.

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