Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Central Information Commission Performance: Right to Information Act in India

Right to Information monitors all segments of the Governance structure including the Central Information Commission.

Shailesh Gandhi's RTI queries seeking to understand the fate of second appeals and complaints with the Commission has yielded some disturbing results.

The total number of second appeals and complaints received by the Commission for the 13 month period April 2007 to April 2008 was 22268, out of which only 12411 were registered! This means the Commission rejected 45% of the second appeals and complaints received on procedural grounds!

This is a sad situation, since the RTI act is expected to be used by the common citizen. The Act even directs the PIO to help the Citizen to even make the application. It is apparent that the CIC is rejecting the second appeals and complaints of Citizens in a very ruthless manner, which is certainly against the spirit of the Act. ( Incidentally this kind of rejection is less than 5% in the Maharashtra State Information Commission.)

The CIC must adopt a more reasonable approach, instead of finding small mistakes to reject appeals. This also highlights the need for activists to understand and teach Citizens the right format and method for filing the second appeals and complaints, to overcome the Commission's unfortunate zeal to reject their appeals.

The other figures received for the period October 2005 to April 2008, s:
Number of Second appeals and complaints registered: 19996

Disposed : 12895

Information partially or fully ordered to be given: 7206 - 56%

Information denied:2237 - 17%

Remanded to First Appellate authority: 3452 - 27%

Penalties imposed: 116 - 0.9%

Users could draw a lesson from the high number remanded to the first appellate authority, and file first appeals wherever applicable before going to the Commission. This would mean only going directly in a Complaint under Section 18 of the Act when the RTI application is not being accepted, or an excessive charge is being levied or a misleading and false information has been provided.

The other matter of concern is the completely uneven pendency in the matters before it.

The figures for each Commissioner are as follows:

Name of Commissioner Number of Second Appeals & Complaints , Allocated Number ,disposed,
Balance and Pending

Shri Wajahat Habibullah - No of Second Appeals : 5236 , Disposed : 2067 , Pending :3169

Shri A.N.Tiwari - Number of Second Appeals: 3587 , disposed : 2531 , Pending :1056

Prof. M.M.Ansari - Number of Second Appeals: 3813 , disposed : 3324 , Pending :489

Shri O.P.Kejriwal - Number of Second Appeals: 3733 , disposed : 2893, Pending :840

Smt.Padma Balasubramanian - Number of Second Appeals: 3627 , disposed :2080 , Pending :1547

It is evident that the Chief Commissioner has an allocation of over 40% more than the other Commissioners. This is leading to an undesirable situation where matters listed before him now are likely to be taken up after nearly 18 months. A reallocation of the work would ensure that this does not happen.


shailesh gandhi
shaileshgan@gmail.com
domain.http://shaileshgandhi.blogspot.com/

Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

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