Skip to main content

India's transparency regime? 1.88 lakh cases pending before 16 state information commissions, no end in sight

A file noting
Counterview Desk
A fresh study on the implementation of the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2006, has said that the collective backlog in the disposal of appeals and complaints in 16 information commissions (ICs), for which data was available, was alarming as 1,87,974 cases were pending on December 31, 2015.
Suggesting that the huge backlog in the disposal of appeals and complaints by the commissions is “one of the most serious problems being faced by the transparency regime in India”, the study, titled
“Tilting the Balance of Power: Adjudicating the RTI Act”, insists, a maximum time should be fixed “within which appeals and complaints should ordinarily be dealt with – hopefully not more than 45 days.”
The study has been carried by a research coordinated by Amrita Johri, Anjali Bhardwaj and Shekhar Singh, and published jointly by Research, assessment, & analysis Group (RaaG) and Satark Nagrik Sangathan (SNS).
Given the current pendency rate, estimates the study, the time to be taken before new appeal is heard (as of January 1, 2016) in Assam would be 30 years, in West Bengal it would be 11 years and 3 months, in Kerala 11 years and 4 months, in Odisha 2 years and 9 months, in Rajasthan 2 years and 3 months, in Karnataka 1 year and 8 months, and in UP 1 year and 2 months.
Insisting that this would require strength of each of the commissions to be assessed on an annual basis, the study says, this is crucial as ICs have a “high stature, extensive powers, including the power to impose penalties on officials, and are the final appellate authority under the RTI law.”
Pending appeals/ complaints
Giving the example of the ICs which have remained non-functional, the study says, the Assam IC was “without a chief from January 1, 2012 till December 2014. In fact, the commission did not have a single commissioner from March 2014 to December 2014 and therefore no appeals or complaints were heard in this period”.
Then, the Manipur SIC was “non-functional for more than a year from March 2013 to May 2014 as there was no commissioner”, and without a chief for “more than four years- from 2011 till 2015”, the study says.
Further, it says, “The IC of Goa was defunct for most of 2015 as after the retirement of the sole commissioner in January 2015, no new appointments were made till January 2016. In Rajasthan, the information commission was not functioning for almost 13 months, from January 2012 to December 2013, while the Madhya Pradesh IC was not functioning for over a year between 2013 and 2014.”
In fact, the study notes, “The Central Information Commission was without a chief for almost nine months and it was only on the intervention of the Delhi HC on a petition by RTI activists, that the chief was appointed in June 2015.”
Study finds that 8 of the 26 IC websites did not provide information on the number of appeals and complaints received and disposed in 2014 and 2015 -- of Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, MP, Manipur, Tamil Nadu, Tripura and Uttarakhand.
It further finds that 10 IC websites did not provide information on the number of appeals/complaints pending at the end of 2014 or 2015 -- of Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, MP, Manipur, Mizoram, Tamil Nadu, Tripura and Uttarakhand.
And, it finds that on 7 of the 26 IC websites, the decisions and orders of the commission could not be "directly accessed" -- of Gujarat, Haryana, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Sikkim, UP and Chhattisgarh.
Interestingly, Rajasthan’s IC was found to have put up a “disclaimer” tgat its contents are for "public information only”, and “neither the Rajasthan IC nor RajCOMP Info Services Ltd (RISL) or Department of Information Technology & Communication, Rajasthan, is responsible for any damages arising from the use of the content of this site.”

Comments

C J Karira said…
This report is as of 31 Dec 2015 !
Why write a article about it in January 2017 - a year later ?
Jag Jivan said…
If the report is of Dec 2015, how come the data up to Dec 31 were analysed?
C J Karira said…
Yes - 31 Dec 2015 data has been analysed in the article.
Check the headings on the table and the contents of the main article body.
Jag Jivan said…
Available data are always a year or more old, nothing unusual. Census 2011 figures are figures are quoted even today to prove issues

TRENDING

Whistle-blowing IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt's wife suspects foul play after truck hits her car

By Nachiketa Desai*
Paranoia has seized Shweta Bhatt, wife of suspended Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Sanjiv Bhatt, after the car she was driving was rammed in broad day light. According to Shweta Bhatt, it was beacon light-flashing truck without registration number plate. The incident took place on January 7, just a day ahead of the Gujarat High Court was scheduled to take up the bail application of Sanjiv Bhatt, arrested last year for "involvement" in a 23-year-old case.

Call to support IIM-Bangalore professor, censured for seeking action against Uniliver

Counterview Desk
Sections of the Indian Institute of Managements (IIMs) across India have strongly reacted to the decision to censure Dr Deepak Malghan, a faulty at IIM-Bangalore. Prabhir Vishnu Poruthiyil, who is faculty at IIM-Tiruchirapalli, has sought wider solidarity with Dr Malghan, saying, "The administration has censured Deepak for merely suggesting a meaningful action against Hindustan Unilever for their abysmal environmental record" by “disinviting” it for campus placement.

99% MGNREGA funds "exhausted", Govt of India makes no additional sanctions: Study

Counterview Desk
A letter, addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and prepared by senior activists led by Aruna Roy on behalf of the Peoples’ Action for Employment Guarantee (PAEG), and signed, among others, by 80 members of Parliament, has regretted that, despite repeated public statements by his government promising employment and job creation that will boost the country’s growth, the country’s only employment guarantee programme, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), “is being systematically undermined.”

Morari Bapu, who has installed new statues of Ram, Laxman, Hanuman without weapons

By Sandeep Pandey*
A saint is one who can give some inner peace by his/her voice. This will happen only when s(he) will talk about love and harmony. Morari Bapu is one saint who has been conveying the message of love, peace, harmony, fraternity, etc. Today when a number of saffron clad figures with aggressive posture, spewing venom, fanning hatred to polarise voters are at the forefront of politics of Hindutva it is a relief to see Morari Bapu in a different mould.

Nuclear reactors sought from French giant "not safe": Letter to Modi on Jaitapur project

Counterview Desk
Amidst reports that the French nuclear giant EDF has submitted a “techno-commercial offer” for the world’s largest nuclear power park proposed in Maharashtra’s Jaitapur nuclear power park in Jaitapur on the Maharashtra coast, Dr EAS Sarma, India’s former Union Secretary in the Minister of Power, and an eminent voice in the civil society, has written an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who also heads Department of Atomic Energy (DAE),  protesting the move.

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

Kerala land being acquired using "draconian, anti-people" National Highway Act, 1956

Counterview Desk
In a letter Chief Minister of Kerala Pinarayi Vijayan, senior activists and politicians have insisted that the Kerala government should not agree to "inhuman displacement and buid-operate-transfer (BOT) Toll system", imposed by the Government of India and the National Highway Authority of India, for widening the current National Highway (NH) 66.

Kaiga NPP expansion: Karnataka to get just 400 MW, but lose thick forest, fresh water

Counterview Desk
In an open letter to the chairman and members of the Atomic energy Commission (AEC) on the issue of Kaiga nuclear power plant (NPP) expansion plan in Karnataka, Shankar Sharma, well-known power policy analyst, has argued that that in case of expansion, the site will face “exponential increase in radiation emission risks”, underlining, “Nuclear safety experts identify such a scenario as enhanced risk for NPPs with multiple reactors and shared technical facilities."
Sharma says the questions that also be asked whether Karnataka should lose more than 54 hectares of thick forests and about 152,304 cubic meters of fresh water per day from Kali river for a meager benefit of 400 MW from the Kaiga NPP, for which “there are many benign alternative options available for the state at much lower overall costs to the state.”
Text of the letter: This has reference to the public hearing under the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Rule 2006 of Ministry of Environment, Fore…

Uttarakhand High Court: Biodiversity boards can impose fees on Ramdev's Divya Pharmacy

By Mridhu Tandon
In a significant decision, the Uttarakhand High Court on December 21, 2018 has dismissed the writ petition filed by Divya Pharmacy founded by Baba Ramdev and Acharya Balakrishnan, challenging the demand of the Uttarakhand Biodiversity Board (UBB) imposing fees under the provisions of the Fair and Equitable Benefit Sharing (FEBS).

Modi becoming Prime Minister now appears to be an "accident" to the people of India

By Sandeep Pandey*
Anupam Kher's film 'Accidental Prime Minister' has targeted Dr Manmohan Singh who served for two terms and may be again acceptable for the job if his party regains power. But his tormentor Narendra Modi seems to be out of breath even before his first term is over. Disillusionment with him is so widespread and deep that people of India may not bear with him for another term. As the general elections approach again the difference between the two needs to be examined.