Chandigarh : It was perhaps a first in India that a State Government actively involved prominent RTI Activists in giving training to its Public Information Officers (PIOs) and the APIOs on their “Role and obligations under the RTI Act, 2005.” At the outset, the Principal Secretary to the Government, Department of Information & Technology, Mr. Sarvesh Kaushal, reiterated the resolve of the State Government to make Punjab “The No. One RTI State”; he claimed that today’s training programme was a first step towards the said goal, and for creating an environment where the PIOs and information seekers proceed towards that goal in a spirit of mutual understanding and cooperation.
This training programme which continued non-stop for three and a half hours from 10.30 AM to 2.00 PM, in the “Committee Roo9m” of Mini-Secretariat, was attended by Advocate H.C. Arora, the State President, and Anil Vashisht, the State Secretary of the RTI Activists Federation Punjab. Arora addressed the gathering comprising around 70 PIOs/ APIOS from all the major departments and Ministries, and after explaining various provisions of the Act, answered their queries on various provisions of the RTI Act. Later Arora, Vashisht and Sarvesh Kaushal together replied to all the doubts and questions raised by the participants. The Federation Office bearers also announced their unique scheme to honour ten PIOs in January, 2012 on the basis of their successful efforts to implement the RTI Act in its true spirit; they also distributed complimentary copies of the RTI Act (Punjabi version) to all the participants.
Saurvesh Kausdhal indicated that the State Government may conduct similar training programmes in various districts of Punjab also; he also hinted about proposal to amend the RTI Punjab Rules so as to enable the information seekers to make oral prayers (instead of written applications) also for getting information from various Government departments; Kaushal also apprised about the on-going efforts of the Department to display maximum information on official website of the Government so that the information seekers may get requisite information free of charge, and without submitting applications under RTI Act. Arora appealed to the State Government to conduct similar programmes for imparting training to information seekers also on how to draft applications and appeals, as envisaged under Section 26 of the RTI Act.