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Srinagar, Jan 12 (UNI) Jammu and Kashmir too will have Right To Information (RTI) Act on a par with other states of the country.

The assurance was given by Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad to Governor Lt General (Retd) S K Sinha today.

Talking to reporters at the headquarters of 15 Crops here this afternoon, General Sinha said Mr Azad has assured him that necessary amendments would be done in the Act to make it at par with the RTI Act passed by the Parliament, which is applicable to other states of the country.

Under Article 370, any law passed by Parliament has to be passed by the State Legislature before it is applicable in the state.

The idea behind the RTI Act, 2005, passed in the Parliament was to let the public have access to every possible information.

General Sinha said he returned the RTI bill, 2007, to government for reconsideration and making some amendments so that it is on a par with the Central Act.

The Chief Minister has agreed that this is going to be done, he asserted.

However, according to the activists of the organisations, including the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) intention behind the Jammu and Kashmir Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2007, seems to deny the common man every information inconvenient to the bureaucrats.

A number of experts said unlike Central RTI Act, which has the judiciary, including the Supreme Court, under its purview, the J&K Act leaves the judiciary outside its purview.

There is also no provision in the J&K Act that bars officers from asking applicants to disclose reasons for seeking information, while in the Central RTI Act it makes clear that information officers would not ask applicants as to why they are seeking any information.

They said the Information Officer has been appointed for all practical purposes vested with the power of a judge, undermining the very purpose of the Act.

The Act also seeks to appoint members of the Information Commission for a term of three years, unlike five years prevalent in other states.

UNI BAS PY BST1807

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