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Traditional chiefs, district councils under RTI

 SHILLONG, June 23 – Meghalaya’s Chief Information Commissioner G P Wahlang has ruled that the Autonomous District Councils (ADCs) and all traditional chiefs of the State fall under the purview of the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005.

 The ruling came in the wake of a petition filed by the Federation of Khasi, Jaińtia and Garo People (FKJGP), an NGO, alleging non-compliance of the Syiem of Hima (chiefdom) Mylliem to furnish information on revenue collection of the Hima (traditional Khasi State).

While examining the petition, Wahlang, observed that the Syiem (chieftain) was an administrative officer of the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC) as enshrined by Para 2(4) of the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution and as confirmed by the Supreme Court in a case between T Cajee and Jormanik Syiem.

The CIC, in its ruling last week, said all the traditional heads are public servants duly appointed by the respective ADCs and hence they automatically attract the provisions of Rule 2 (h) of the RTI Act.

Earlier in the month of January this year, FKJGP had filed a RTI application with the office of the Syiem of Mylliem seeking information on the status of revenue collection and expenditure of the Syiem. Till date the Syiem has not responded claiming that his office was not within the purview of the RTI Act.

The Syiem also ignored a direction by the KHADC asking him to furnish the requisite information within a period of fifteen days.

After the refusal of the Syiem to adhere to the directions of the KHADC, FKJGP lodged a complaint with the office of the CIC.

The CIC has issued a strong direction ordering the Syiem to furnish the information within a period of twenty days with effect from June 17.

The ruling of CIC has been forwarded to the State principal secretary in charge of District Council Affairs, Secretaries of all three ADCs of the State directing them to streamline the functioning of all traditional heads and institutions including appointment of requisite personnel as prescribed by the RTI Act. – PTI

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