Sunday 16 June 2024

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Issues | Right to Info

Penalise HoDs for not providing suo moto Info: Coutinho


Adv Cleofato Almeida Coutinho, a constitutional lawyer, has suggested that heads of the government departments be penalized for not providing suo moto information to the people, under Right to Information Act.

While speaking at a seminar on RTI and Good Governance at the second All Goa Rural RTI Convention held at Siolim yesterday, Adv Coutinho said section 4 of the RTI act is toothless and needs to be loaded with penal provisions.

Section 4 of the RTI deals with ‘Obligation of Public Authorities’ in maintaining records and making it available to the public suo moto, without any application, through website, literature, reports, directories etc etc.

While RTI activists are demanding implementation of section 4 in order to strengthen RTI, Adv Coutinho felt it would not happen unless it is armed with penal provisions.

“Give the authorities 180 days to upload all the information, failing which make a provision to hold the departmental head responsible”, he suggested.

The constitutional lawyer also felt that the Information Commission should utilize section 19 (8) and impose fines on public authorities for not supplying the information suo moto.

He also felt that decisions on appeals should also be made time-bound.

“The appeal before the departmental head should be disposed within 10 days while the Information Commission should dispose it within 30 days”, said Adv Coutinho.

While stating that the RTI Act provides for information regarding life and liberty within 48 hours, he said the concept of life and liberty is today widened and most of the information should be brought under the purview of life and liberty.

Though he agreed that some people are misusing RTI to blackmail officers and politicians, Adv Coutinho pointed out that there could not be blackmail unless there is something fishy in the issue.

Sangeeta Naik, an IT professional, presented at the session in what pathetic condition the government websites are and how most of the departmental websites are full with outdated and wrong information.

“Neither government websites are designed properly nor they are updated regularly, thus depriving the citizens of their right to information suo moto”, she said.

Sandesh Prabhudesai, editor of, said maintaining and updating government records would happen only when the mindset of the authorities would change.

“Before demanding implementation of section 4, we should thus demand implementation of section 26 that deals with training and educating the officials as well as creating mass awareness regarding RTI”, he said.

He also suggested that the Goa RTI Forum should demand implementation of two annual reports prepared by the Goa State Information Commission prepared and submitted to the government in 2006-07 and 2007-08.

He also suggested that 17 December, the day Goa’s RTI act was passed in 1997, be observed as the RTI Day, by giving ‘oath of transparency’ to all the government servants in each and every office.

“The government servants need to inculcate the culture that secrecy and hiding information is a history and transparency is the new administrative culture”, he said. is now on Telegram & also Youtube. Kindly subscribe for free & remain updated.

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