Skip to main content

Sharp rise in pending RTI cases with India's information commissions, top five states account for 77% of pendency

By Our Representative
The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, a Delhi-based advocacy group, in a new report has said, data accessed from 19 Information Commissions (ICs) show that there are 1.93 lakh pending second appeal and complaint cases of Right to Information (RTI), up from 1.10 lakh cases in 2015. Top five ICs accounting for 77% of the overall pendency are Maharashtra (41,537), Uttar Pradesh (40,248), Karnataka (29,291), Central Information Commission (23,989) and Kerala (14,253 cases).
Pointing out that pendency in Bihar, Jharkhand and Tamil Nadu is not known publicly, the report points out, Mizoram State Information Commission (SIC) received and decided only one appeal case in 2016-17. The report, called Rapid Review, has been released to mark the 25th anniversary of CHRI's work in India at the Open Consultation on the Future of RTI: Challenges and Opportunities, held in Delhi.
The report notes, there is no State Chief Information Commissioner (SCIC) in Gujarat since mid-January 2018. Maharashtra SIC is headed by an acting SCIC since June 2017. There is no Information Commission in Andhra Pradesh (after Telangana was carved out in June 2014), though the state government has assured the Hyderabad High Court that it will set up an SIC soon.
The report says, vacancies have reached at an all-time high, with more than 25% (109) of the 146 posts in the Information Commissions lying vacant. In 2015, as against 142 posts created, 111 Information Commissioners (including Chief Information Commissioners) were working across the country.
The report states, large-sized SICs have huge pendency. Thus, while 47% of the serving Chief Information Commissioners and ICs are situated in seven states -- Haryana (11), Karnataka, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh (9 each), Central Information Commission, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu (7 each) -- six of these Commissions are saddled with 72% of the pending appeals and complaints across the country.
The report continues, bias towards bureaucrats in appointments has grown, with 90% of the Information Commissions headed by retired civil servants. It adds, more than 43% of the Information Commissioners are from civil services background. "This is the trend despite the Supreme Court’s directive in 2013 to identify candidates in other fields of specialisation mentioned in the RTI Act for appointment", complains CHRI's senior RTI activist Venkatesh Nayak.
According to the report, only 8.25% of the serving SCICs and ICs are women. There are only nine women in all the Information Commissions put together, and of these, three are retired civil servants.
The report regrets, the websites of SICs of Madhya Pradesh and Bihar cannot be detected on any Internet browser, adding, the SICs of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh have not published any annual report so far. Jharkhand and Kerala SICs each have six pending annual reports. And Punjab has five and Andhra Pradesh, four pending reports.
Despite the absence of their latest annual reports, the Central Government (57.43 lakhs/5.74 million) and the State Governments of Maharashtra (54.95 lakhs/5.49 million) and Karnataka (20.73 lakhs/2.07 million) continue to top the list of jurisdictions receiving the most number of information requests, the report says, adding, Gujarat (9.86 lakhs) recorded more RTI applications than neighbouring Rajasthan (8.55 lakhs) where the demand for RTI has emerged from the grassroots.
It continues, despite having much lower levels of literacy, Chhattisgarh (6.02 lakh) logged more RTI applications than the 100% literate Kerala (5.73 lakhs). Despite being much smaller sized States, Himachal Pradesh (4.24 lakhs), Punjab (3.60 lakhs) and Haryana (3.32 lakhs) registered more RTI applications each than the geographically bigger State of Odisha (2.85 lakhs).

Comments

TRENDING

Mystery around Gujarat PSU 'transfer' of Rs 250 crore to Canadian firm Karnalyte

By AK Luke, IAS (Retd)*
While returning from a Board meeting of the Oil India Limited (OIL) in Ahmedabad some time in 2012, two officers of the Gujarat State Fertilizers and Chemicals Ltd (GSFC), Nanavaty and Patel,  saw me off at the airport. They said they were proceeding to Canada in connection with a project GSFC had entered into with a company there. As we were running late, I hastily wished them the best.

J&K continues to be haunted, as parts of India 'degenerate' into quasi-Kashmir situation

By Rajendran Narayanan*, Sandeep Pandey**
“Jab har saans mein bandook dikhe toh baccha kaise bekhauf rahe?” (How can a child be fearless when she sees a gun in every breath?) remarked Anwar, a gardener from Srinagar, when asked about the situation in Kashmir. On November 30, 2019, a walk through an iron gate in a quiet neighbourhood of Srinagar took us inside a public school. It was 11 am when typically every school is abuzz with activity. Not here though.

Savarkar in Ahmedabad 'declared' two-nation theory in 1937, Jinnah followed 3 years later

By Our Representative
One of the top freedom fighters whom BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi revere the most, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, was also a great supporter of the two nation theory for India, one for Hindus another for Muslims, claims a new expose on the man who is also known to be the original proponent of the concept of Hindutva.

Indians have made 119 nations their ‘karma bhumi’: US-based Hindu NGO tells Rupani

Counterview Desk
In a stinging letter to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, the US-based Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR), referring to the report citing his justification for the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) – that “while Muslims can choose any one of the 150 Islamic countries in the world (for residence), India is the only country for Hindus" – has said, he should remember, Hindus have made several countries, including USA, their home.

Dalits rights meet planned on how citizenship law 'negates' Ambedkar's equality focus

By Our Representative
A Dalit rights meet has been planned at the Dalit Shakti Kendra (DSK), Sanand, Ahmedabad district, to discuss implications of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), passed by Parliament on December 10-11, for Dalits, Adivasis and other marginalized sections. Announcing the decision, DSK director Martin Macwan said, the meet would take place on December 25, 2019, at 11.00 am, to commemorate the anniversary of burning of copies of Manusmriti by Dr BR Ambedkar.

What about religious persecution of Dalits, Adivasis, asks anti-CAA meet off Ahmedabad

By Rajiv Shah
A well-attended Dalit rights meet under the banner “14 Pe Charcha” (discussion on Article 14 of the Indian Constitution), alluding to Prime Minister Narendra Modi well-known campaign phrase of the 2014 Parliamentary elections, “chai pe charcha” (discussion over cup of tea), organized off Ahmedabad, has resolved on Wednesday to hold a 14 kilometres-long rally on April 14 to oppose the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), enacted on December 10-11.

Upendra Baxi on foolish excellence, Indian judges and Consitutional cockroaches

By Rajiv Shah
In a controversial assertion, top legal expert Upendra Baxi has sought to question India's Constitution makers for neglecting human rights and social justice. Addressing an elite audience in Ahmedabad, Prof Baxi said, the constitutional idea of India enunciated by the Constituent Assembly tried to resolve four key conflicting concepts: governance, development, rights and justice.

Tata Mundra's possible closure? Power ministry's 'pressure tactic' on consumer states

By Bharat Patel*
Tata power has announced to the Union Ministry of Power that Tata Power may be forced to stop operating  its imported coal-based Mundra Ultra-Mega Power Project (UMPP) after February, 2020. It is not only unfortunate but also criminal that irreversible damage has been caused to the fragile ecosystem of Mundra coast for a project that will have a running life of only seven years.

Population control? 10% Indian couples want to delay next pregnancy, but fail

Counterview Desk
Shireen Jejeebhoy, director at Aksha Centre for Equity and Wellbeing, previously senior associate at the Population Council, India, argues that the debate on the country's population was fuelled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day address to the nation, where he drew attention to “concern” about the challenges posed by this ‘exploding’ population growth, needs to centre around the promotion of rights and education, instead of the language of explosion and the threat of coercion that this term implies.