Skip to main content

India's information commissions "riddled" with up to 10 years delay in hearing RTI pleas, Delhi public hearing told

By Our Representative
Even as releasing its new report highlighting concerns regarding the performance of information commissions in India, including the Central Information Commission (CIC), a public hearing in Delhi organized by advocacy groups, Satark Nagrik Sangathan and National Campaign for People's Right to Information, has confirmed its key findings -- delays, skewed composition of information commissioners, vacancies, lack of penalty imposition and transparency in their functioning.
The report, ‘Report Card of Information Commissions in India’, was released in the presence of RK Mathur, India's chief information commissioner and Haryana information commissioners, and right to information (RTI) users and activists from 14 states -- Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Manipur, West Bengal, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Delhi, Jammu & Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Kerala and Bihar.
The hearing was told, while people have understood the value of the RTI Act and are using it vibrantly for a variety of issues -- from demanding accountability in basic entitlements to questioning the highest officers -- the functioning of information commissions is a major bottleneck in the effective implementation of the RTI law.
RK Mathur
Chakradhar, an RTI activist from Andhra Pradesh, testified that the state has no functional state information commission for the past 11 months. After the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh in 2014, the state information commission (SIC) of Andhra Pradesh continued to function as the information commission for both Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. However, SIC became defunct in May 2017 when the serving commissioners retired. No new commissioners have been appointed.
Abey George from Kerala highlighted that the SIC is functioning with only one commissioner even though nearly 14,000 appeals/complaints are pending with the commission and it takes several years for a matter to come up for disposal.
Reena testified that despite passage of more than 16 months since she had filed a second appeal with CIC, the matter has yet to come up for hearing. A single mother from Dakshinpuri, Delhi, she applied for scheduled caste (SC) certificates for her children but was told by the revenue department that she needed to produce the caste certificate of the father of her children as a mother’s caste certificate would not suffice.
Reena filed an RTI request in June 2016 seeking information about the documents required for applying for a caste certificate for her children and the procedure to be followed in case a single mother is not in possession of father’s caste certificate. She filed a second appeal with CIC on November 30, 2016. However, till date her matter has not been taken up by CIC.
Amitava Chowdhury from West Bengal said, he filed an application under the RTI Act on March 28, 2008 seeking information on the names and designations of persons connected with appointment-related activities of the West Bengal College Service Commission. However, no information was provided. Hence, he filed a complaint before SIC on February 25, 2009. The complaint was finally heard on March 7, 2018 -- more than nine years after it was filed!
Kusumlata, a resident of Moti Lal Nehru slum in Delhi, said, she filed an RTI application seeking information on her pension which was suddenly denied, without informing her. She was provided incomplete information, which was also confirmed by the first appellate authority. Despite non-compliance with the orders of the first appellate authority, CIC refused to impose penalty.
Shankar, a resident of Lal Gumbad, sought certified copy of his application for SC certificate and copy of verification report of his certificate from the revenue department though RTI on July 28, 2015. No reply was received. Therefore, he filed first appeal on September 8, 2015. During the hearing on October 13, 2015, a direction was issued to provide information within seven days. As there was no compliance, he approached CIC. While CIC issued a show case notice, till date there is no follow-up.

Comments

Uma Sheth said…
In the early days, when Shailesh Gandhi was in charge, two queries raised by me resulted in action in a week's time. After he resigned, I haven't had occasion to raise any queries but I have been reading the "horror" stories in the papers and on the 'net. No government in India will ever bring about change in the sorry state the best act is in today
Anonymous said…
Very soon CIC and SICs would become like SC and HCs.... with pendency running into lacs of cases.....

TRENDING

Gujarat refusal to observe Maulana Azad's birthday as Education Day 'discriminatory'

By Our Representative
The Gujarat government decision not to celebrate the National Education Day on !monday has gone controversial. Civil society organizations have particularly wondered whether the state government is shying away from the occasion, especially against the backdrop of "deteriorating" level of education in Gujarat.

Rushdie, Pamuk, 260 writers tell Modi: Aatish episode casts chill on public discourse

Counterview Desk
As many as 260 writers, journalists, artists, academics and activists across the world, including Salman Rushdie, British Indian novelist, Orhan Pamuk, Turkish novelist and recipient of the 2006 Nobel Prize in literature, and Margaret Atwood, Canadian poet and novelist, have called upon Prime Minister Narendra Modi to review the decision to strip British Indian writer Aatish Taseer of his overseas Indian citizenship.

Violent 'Ajodhya' campaign in 1840s after British captured Kabul, destroyed Jama Masjid

Counterview Desk  Irfan Ahmad, professor at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Göttingen, Germany, and author of “Islamism and Democracy in India” (Princeton University Press, 2009), short-listed for the 2011 International Convention of Asian Scholars Book Prize for the best study in Social Sciences, in his "initial thoughts" on the Supreme Court judgment on the Babri-Jam Janmaboomi dispute has said, while order was “lawful”, it was also “awful.”

Visually challenged lady seeks appointment with Gujarat CM, is 'unofficially' detained

By Pankti Jog*
It was a usual noon of November 10. I got a phone call on our Right to Information (RTI) helpline No 9924085000 from Ranjanben of Khambhat, narrating her “disgraceful” experience after she had requested for an appointment with Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani. She wanted to meet Rupani, on tour of the Khambhat area in Central Gujarat as part of his Janvikas Jumbesh (Campaign for Development).

There may have been Buddhist stupa at Babri site during Gupta period: Archeologist

By Rajiv Shah
A top-notch archeologist, Prof Supriya Varma, who served as an observer during the excavation of the Babri Masjid site in early 2000s along with another archeologist, Jaya Menon, has controversially stated that not only was there "no temple under the Babri Masjid”, if one goes “beyond” the 12th century to 4th to 6th century, i.e. the Gupta period, “there seems to be a Buddhist stupa.”

VHP doesn't represent all Hindus, Sunni Waqf Board all Muslims: NAPM on SC ruling

Counterview Desk
India's top civil rights network, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), even as describing the Supreme Court's Ayodhya judgement unjust, has said, it is an "assault on the secular fabric of the Constitution". In a statement signed by top social workers and activists, NAPM said, "The judgement conveys an impression to Muslims that, despite being equal citizens of the country, their rights are not equal before the law."

Church in India 'seems to have lost' moral compass of unequivocal support to the poor

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*
In 2017, Pope Francis dedicated a special day, to be observed by the Universal Church, every year, as the ‘World Day of the Poor’. This year it will be observed on November 17 on the theme ‘The hope of the poor shall not perish for ever’; in a message for the day Pope Francis says: