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

Impact of state repression? Kashmir's 65% people prefer independence: Cambridge study

By Rajiv Shah 
Even as the Government of India’s controversial move to abrogate Article 370 of the Constitution and bifurcate Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) into two union territories is not only refusing to down die but has acquired international dimensions, a recent study, published by the Cambridge University Press, has claimed “pro-independence attitudes” among that 65% of Kashmiris, warning, this sentiment worsens when the state machinery resorts “repressive violence”.

Hindus to be 'sent' to Kashmir? Despite Israeli settlements, peace eludes the region

By Anand K Sahay*
Curfew, news and communications blackout, transportation shut-down... News reports from Kashmir are worrying. So are the views relayed through the media, especially television. Old-fashioned repression seems to be consorting comfortably with expressions of concern “for our Kashmiri brethren”. We are looking at Orwell’s 1984 in the making.

Dholera 'inundated': Gujarat govt tries selling low lying area as top smart city site

Counterview Desk
Even as the Dholera Special Investment Region Regional Development Authority (DSIRDA) of the Gujarat government was busy organising a junket for Gujarat-based journalists for the area sought to be sold as an ideal special investment region (SIR) for industrialists, well-known farmers' activist Sagar Rabari has wondered why no investor has so far agreed to put in money in an area situated in Ahmedabad district along the Gulf of Khambhat.

Congress' anti-democratic laws led to Modi govt's 'Constitutional' changes: Scholars

Counterview Desk
A large number of academics* said to be belonging to several Indian and international institutions, even as taking strong exception to the Narendra Modi government's alleged move to amend the Constitution through "illegitimate" means, have taken strong exception to their colleagues in academia who we have become "all too accustomed to adopting a calculated silence in the face of such indignities."

Kashmir normal? Schoolboys, teenagers being arbitrarily picked up, detained: Report

Counterview Desk
A four-person team, consisting of Jean Dr├Ęze, well-known development economist; Kavita Krishnan, who is with the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist); Maimoona Mollah of the All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA); and Vimal Bhai of the National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), back from a five-day fact-finding mission (August 9-13) from Kashmir, has said that people they spoke to “expressed their pain, anger, and sense of betrayal against the Government of India.”
In a report, “Kashmir Caged”, released along with a short eight-minute film, they said, the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A, dissolution of the state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), and bifurcating it into two Union Territories, is not being supported by anyone they met, except for BJP spokesperson on Kashmir affairs Ashwani Kumar Chrungoo, who claimed 46% vote share in J&K.
Excerpts from the report: When our flight landed, and the airlines staff announced that passeng…

Modi's Gujarati mind? Why govt move to 'sell-off' defence PSUs isn't in national interest

By Sandeep Pandey*
The Standing Committee on Defence, 2017-18, of the 16th Lok Sabha highlights the idea of Buy Indian-IDDM (Indigenously Designed Developed and Manufactured). The Committee expressed concern over the import content of equipments produced and developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Ordnance Factories (OFs) and defence Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) because of the dependence it creates for military hardware on foreign suppliers.

Central Gujarat effluent channel 'releasing' highly polluted industrial wastewater: PM told

Counterview Desk
Senior environmentalists of the Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS), Vadodara, Rohit Prajapati and Krishnakant, in an open letter to the Prime Minister, the Gujarat chief minister, the Gujarat chief secretary, and senior Government of India and Gujarat government officials dealing with environment, pollution and climate change have said that the authorities’ response their pleas to take action against the leakages and flow of polluted wastewater from the effluent channels of Central Gujarat industrial areas has met with complete inertia.

Can't go to court with RTI information, rule Ahmedabad authorities: Kankaria accident

By Pankti Jog*
In a shocking reply to an application filed by me, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) authorities have said that the information provided under the Right to Information (RT) Act should be used in court or in a judicial process. The Act is known to be a major tool that enables citizens to seek certified copies of documents, records from any public authority of state and Central government within 30 days, as per provisions of the Act.

Quit India Movement 'betrayal' and dubious role of Hindu Mahasabha, RSS leaders

By Shamsul Islam*
After the recent guillotine of Article 370, Hindutva ideologue Ram Madhav, while celebrating the occasion stated that it was honouring of the sacrifices of Dr Shyam Prasad Mukherjee and thousands others who laid down their lives for its removal. It is to be noted that Dr Mukherjee was a cadre of RSS and was groomed into a Hindutva leader by another Hindutva icon, VD Savarkar.

Strategy for united struggle against Hindutva 'fascism': Ideological silence is 'no option'

By Dr Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
Electoral alliance and opportunism of national and regional political parties, neoliberal economic marginalisation and soft secular Hindutva line pandering to Hindu majoritarianism laid the foundation of Hindutva fascism in post-colonial India.