Info Commission seeks power to charge for contempt

Info Commission seeks power to charge for contempt

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Dogged by a slew of challenges, the Information Commission seeks power to draw contempt of court proceedings against errant party to effectively implement the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
“It’s possible to implement the Right to Information (RTI) Act effectively by empowering the commission to draw contempt of court proceedings against errant party and with other time-befitting and effective systems,” the Commission says in its annual report-2013.
The existing law allows the commission only to impose fine from to Tk 50 to Tk 5,000 for violation of its rules.Five years into its formation and the emergence of the Right to Information Act, the Information Commission in its annual report identified 16 challenges for it to implement the act.
Lack of awareness about the Act among people and the culture of procrastination to provide information are among the major challenges to implement the RTI Act, according to the annual report.
As per the report, lack of strict monitoring, manpower shortage in government offices at district level, inadequate fund allocations for government offices to gather and furnish information, ambiguity and limitations in the RTI Act, inadequate publicity about the law, lack of publishing information spontaneously, not-appointment of designated officers to all offices, lack of giving information willingly and reluctance about practicing the RTI Act are the challenges the Commission facing in implementing the law.
Lack of interest among journalists and media people to use the RTI act, inadequate arrangement for preserving information, lack of clear idea of the designated officer as well as appellate authority, dependency on higher authority to provide information and lack of logistic support in the offices of the designated officer were also mentioned as challenges the commission facing.
In 2013, the number of applications seeking information using the prescribed format was 11,727 across the country and of them 7,816 were submitted to the government authorities and 3911 to the NGO’s, according to the report.
Among the total applications, 11,275 were entertained, while 452 left out.
In 2013, a total of 207 complaints were lodged with the Information Commission and 101 of them settled through hearings.
Among the 207 complaints, 192 were against government offices and three against semi-government and 12 against non-government offices.
However, no punitive action was taken against any official based on the allegations filed with the Information Commission, the report said.
It also said the various authorities realised Tk 907,156 for providing information under the RTI Act-2009.
The report also added that most authorities did not realise fee for providing information.
The Right to Information ordinance was promulgated on October 20, 2008.
Later, the Right to Information Act was passed in Parliament on March 29, 2009.
The main objective of the Right to Information Act is to empower the citizens by promoting transparency and accountability in the working of the public, autonomous and statutory organisations and other private organisations constituted or run by the government or foreign financing with the ultimate aim of decreasing corruption and establishing good governance in society in real sense. – UNB

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