Thursday, March 17, 2016

Modi's office witnesses 44% rise in RTI pleas, proportion of rejections go up by 22%: CIC Annual Report

By Our Representative
An analysis of the just-released Annual Report of the Central Information Commission (CIC), the Central right to information (RTI) watchdog, has revealed that the office of Prime Minister Narendra Modi witnessed a whopping 44% increase in the number of RTI applications received in 2014-15 (12,674) as compared to 2013-14 (7,077).
The analysis, carried out by senior activist Venkatesh Nayak of the top advocacy group Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), said, “The proportion of rejection was higher at 22.10% in 2014-15 as compared with 20.50% in 2013-14.” He added, “While the PMO rejected only 14 RTI applications under the grounds permissible in the RTI Act, it rejected 99% of the requests (2,781) under 'others' category, for reasons not permissible under the RTI Act.”
As for the Finance Ministry, Nayak said, it received the highest number of RTI applications, 140,324 of all ministries. At the same time, he added, the proportion of rejection has increased by 1% in 2014-15 (20.20%) as compared to the previous year.
The Home Ministry received 52,009 RTI applications in 2014-15, marking an increase of 12.3% over the previous year. “More than 42% of these RTI applications were received by the Delhi Police which comes under this Ministry”, Nayak said, adding, “The proportion of rejection in 2014-15 has also increased to almost 16% as compared to 14.20% in 2013-14.”
The Defence Ministry, said Nayak, witnessed an increase of 11.7% in the number of RTI applications received (35,082) in 2014-15 as compared to the previous year. The rate of rejection has also shot up from 12% to almost 16% in 2014-15.
On the whole, Nayak said, the proportion of rejection of RTI applications shot up by 1.2% in 2014-15. While only 7.20% of the RTI applications was rejected in 2013-14, this figure has increased to 8.40% in 2014-15, he reported, calling it a “cause for worry”.
Nayak's analysis shows that in 2014-15, more than 35% of the RTI applications were rejected under Section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act, under which information relating not related to any public activity or interest or one that would cause unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the individual, is exempt.
“About 20% of the RTI applications were rejected under Section 8(1)(d) which exempts information in the nature of commercial confidence, trade secrets or intellectual property, making it the 2nd most invoked exemption”, he said, adding, this is followed by “Section 8(1)(e) relating to information made available in a fiduciary relationship (14.6%).
The Annual Report further reveals that the CIC imposed penalties to the tune of more than Rs. 7 lakhs (Rs. 739,000) on errant PIOs in 2014-15. “This figure has reduced drastically by 61% when compared with the imposition of fines to the tune of Rs. 19.25 lakhs (Rs. 1,925,000) in 2013-14”, said Nayak, adding, “During 2014-15 the CIC recovered penalties better as compared to the previous year. It recovered Rs. 11.31 lakhs (Rs. 11,31,225) as compared to Rs. 10.19 lakhs (Rs. 1,019,628) which is about 10% higher.”

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