In a landmark order passed by the state information commission, all offices of cabinet ministers and ministers of states will henceforth be treated as public authorities.
The order gives scope for more transparency in these offices, by bringing the conduct of ministers and their activities under the ambit of the RTI Act. It also makes sure that from now on staff in the ministers’ offices won’t be able to shoo citizens away when they go with their RTI applications.
The order was passed by state chief information commissioner Ratnakar Gaikwad on Thursday on an application made by Fort resident Govind Tupe. It directs the chief secretary to appoint the required staff so that offices of ministers take RTI applications. The order has to be complied with by October 31.
Chief secretary Swadheen Kshatriya said, “We will comply with the order.”
Tupe had submitted an application to the office of the social justice minister, which was accepted but not replied to.
After the Act was implemented, barring the chief minister’s office, other ministers’ offices gradually stopped accepting applications, saying they should be sent to the department concerned and not the ministry. But in such scenarios, unless the applicant categorically asked about a particular detail regarding the minister or ministry, s/he wasn’t given that information. And, with the ministers’ offices left out of the RTI ambit, applicants would fail to get information that only the minister and his/her ministry was in the know of.
Now, with Gaikwad’s order, recommendations made by ministers, letters they write and other details, like their daily schedule, are expected to be made available.