Monday, December 17, 2007

Citizens’ right to information


Due to pressure from international consensus, many countries have adopted enactments in terms of Right to Information to check the working of government departments. Likewise in India Right to Information Act was passed. Admittedly it is a good legislation besides being public friendly. J&K State also passed Right to Information Act 2005 which is not that strong as it should have been. However, this right was given to the general public to get the information and examine public documents in the government offices.

Yet the general public is not aware of its benefits and are not that serious to ask for the required information under this Act. But most of the people are interested to get the information about their land records lying with patwaries. Once a landlord or tenant requires the revenue records of any land, they have to first deposit fee in the government treasury and then he has to locate patwari concerned who do not have any permanent office anywhere. Sometimes people search for the patwari in Halqa place, sometimes in tehsil office and sometimes at camp offices.

And it takes days together for a person to locate patwari and once the patwari is located, he then gives date to the person for issuing revenue extracts and sometimes he is told by patwari that he is not entitled to get the extract of a particular land because his name is not figuring anywhere in the land. But what is the harm if anybody will deposit the fee and will ask for the extract of revenue record of any particular land if it does not fall within his ownership or possession.

Even the Jamabenadi and Girdawari in the custody of a patwari is public document and is maintained by the patwari concerned. So every person has access to a public document and can get the extract of these records whether the land belongs to him or not because every one has a right to have information of any record maintained by government servant under right to information act.

We must computerize all the land records of all the villages at Tehsil headquarters and it should be updated each month at Tehsil headquarter. Patwaris should maintain the ownership and possession rights recorded in their books and also pass on the information every month to the Tehsil office where the whole record should be maintained through computer system.

Everyone interested can apply and ask for the copies of records and can have the inspection of all the records. This will save the time of common man and it will curb the corrupt practices of patwaries to a great extent. On depositing some reasonable fee, a landlord should be provided a passbook of all his or her land, and this passbook can be updated from time to time at the instance of landlord just like the Bank maintains the records.

It is the need of hour that a land bank is established at each district so that all information regarding all kinds of land is available, and the development if any is recorded in the records. It was experienced that sometimes the same patwari is issuing an extract showing information of the particular land and on the other day the same patwari issues the extract with different information. This creates a lot of confusion. Unless and until computer system is not setup in the revenue department, there are no chances of transparency.

Under Right to Information Act every patwari should be made liable for providing all information of land to anyone interested. Also patwaries should be made accountable to the public. Patwaries are roaming in cars and don’t care for the public in terms of Right to Information policy adopted by the state. Some patwaries are posted at one place for the last 20 years and are not transferred, although government has adopted a policy that after every two years the transfer of the employees be made necessary but most of the patwaries are reluctant to move for the subsequent postings because they have developed strong relations with land brokers at particular places which adversely affects the general public.

(A R Hanjura is a Social Activist)

Courtesy_
http://www.greaterkashmir.com

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