Kathmandu, December 2
Ministries have performed poorly in terms of compliance with proactive disclosure under the Right to Information Act, a study has shown.
Only seven of the 22 ministries regularly updated information under the RTI obligation, according to the study carried out by Freedom Forum that monitored websites of 22 ministries. Section 5 of the RTI Act 2007 and Rules 2009 require public bodies, including ministries, to disclose 20 types of information proactively, including the obligation to publish essential information about each body, its functions, services, decision-making processes, details about the chief and information officer and financial information about the body. The information must be updated every three months.
The seven ministries regularly updating their information include Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers; Ministry of Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation; Ministry of Communications and Information Technology; Ministry of land Management, Cooperatives and Poverty Alleviation; Ministry of Defence; Ministry of Finance; and Ministry of Forests and Environment.
However, these ministries too have not proactively disclosed all 20 types of information as required by the act. The OPMCM has disclosed only 11 types of information; MoEWRI 10 types; MoICT eight types; MoLMCPA 16 types; MoD 16 types; MoF 17 types; and MoFE 16 types.
According to the study, the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies updated information only till mid-December 2017, while the Ministry of Water Supply has updated information only till mid-December 2016. Similarly, Ministry of Urban Development has made proactive disclosure till mid-March 2019, while the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has made just one-time update in mid-April 2019. The Ministry of Women, Children and Senior Citizens has updated irrelevant information.
The act also provisions that the information should be easily accessible to the service seekers. However, the study showed only two of the 22 ministries have distinct RTI menu/tab on the home page of their websites, while the other 20 ministries have no specific RTI menu/tab on the home page of their websites. Similarly, 14 of the ministries have visible menu/tab for proactive disclosure of information on their websites, while the rest don’t have such menu/tabs easily visible. Three ministries — Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation; Health and Population; and Youths and Sports — have disclosure tab or RTI links on their websites, but the tabs/links do not open.
Ministries that do not have TRI menu/tabs or the menu/tabs are not easily accessible include Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development; Ministry of Education, Science and Technology; Ministry of Home Affairs; Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs; Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security; Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport; and Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration.
A version of this article appears in print on December 03, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.