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

It's now official: Developed Gujarat's regular, casual workers earn less than 19 top states

By Rajiv Shah
Though not as low as state chief minister Vijay Rupani claims it to be (0.9%), Gujarat’s unemployment rate, at least as reflected in a recent report released by the Government of India, is 4.8%, lower than the national average, 6%. Yet, ironically, the same report, released soon after the Lok Sabha polls came to an end in May 2019, brings to light an even grimmer reality: Lower wages in "model" and "developed" Gujarat compared to virtually the whole of India, including the so-called Bimaru states.

Telangana govt proposes to give unfettered powers to forest officials, 'help' corporates

By Dr Palla Trinadha Rao*
The Telangana Government is contemplating to replace the Telangana Forest Act 1967 with a new law - the Telangana Forest Act (TFA) 2019, trampling the rights of adivasis ensured under the Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 (FRA Act 2006) and Panchayats Extension to Schedule Area (PESA) Act 1996 both of which are central acts.

RSS, Hindu Mahasabha were 'subservient' to British masters: Nagpur varsity VC told

Counterview Desk
Well-known political scientist Shamsul Islam, associate professor (retired), University of Delhi, in an open letter to the vice-chancellor of the Rashtrasant Tukadoji Maharaj Nagpur University, Dr Siddharthavinayaka P Kane, has taken strong exception to the varsity decision to include RSS’ “role” in nation building in the syllabus of the BA (history) course, citing instances to say that the RSS ever since its birth in 1925 with its Hindutva allies like Hindu Mahasabha led by VD Savarkar worked overtime to “betray the glorious anti-colonial freedom struggle”.

British companies export 'deadly' asbestos to India, other countries from offshore offices

By Rajiv Shah
“The Sunday Times”, which forms part of the powerful British daily, “The Times”, has raised the alarm that though the “deadly” asbestos is banned in Britain, companies registered in United Kingdom, and operating from other countries, “are involved in shipping it to developing nations”, especially India. India, Brazil, Russia and China account for almost 80% of the asbestos consumed globally every year, it adds.

Amaravati: World Bank refusing to share public grievances on Land Pooling Scheme

By Our Representative
A new report, prepared by the advocacy group Centre for Financial Accountability (CFA), New Delhi, has taken strong exception to the World Bank refusing to share its independent assessment of the Land Pooling Scheme (LPS), floated by the Andhra Pradesh government in order to build the new capital.

Beijing-based infrastructure bank 'funding' India's environmentally risky projects

By Our Representative
A new civil society note has questioned the operations of the Beijing-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), a multilateral development bank that aims to support the building of infrastructure in the Asia-Pacific region, seeking to fund projects in India through the Government of India’s National Infrastructure Investment Fund (NIIF), calling it “a risky venture”.

Include all workers exposed to silica dust in anti-TB programme: Govt of India told

Counterview Desk
In a letter, sponsored by well-known civil rights organization, Occupational & Environmental Health Network of India and signed by more than 60 professionals and activists*, Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, has been told that Indian policy makers shouldn't just acknowledge higher TB risk to mine and stone crusher workers, but also “other silica-exposed workers”.

Universal healthcare? India lacks provisions to 'fight' non-communicable diseases

By Moin Qazi*
Universal health coverage (UHC) -- ensuring that all people receive proper and adequate health care without suffering financial hardship -- is an integral part of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. It enables countries to make the most of their strongest asset: human capital.

Polygamy in India "down" in 45 yrs: Muslims' from 5.7 to 2.55%, Hindus' 5.8 to 1.77%, "common" in SCs, STs

By Rajiv Shah
Amidst All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) justifying polygamy, saying it “meets social and moral needs and the provision for it stems from concern and sympathy for women”, facts suggest the the practice is down from 5.7 per cent of Muslim families in 1961 to 2.55 per cent in 2006.

TISS Hyderabad: Burden of funds cut falls on students from 'marginalized' sections

Counterview Desk
Top activists associated with the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), a civil society network, including Medha Patkar, Aruna Roy, Nikhil Dey, Shankar Singh, Dr Binayak Sen, and Prafulla Samantara, has protested against the decision of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) administration for “sine die” closure of TISS, Hyderabad Campus, even as “denying” hostel access to Dalit and Adivasi students.