CIC’s trick to reject second appeals and complaints on flimsy grounds to bring down pending RTI cases to 10% has been exposed
Vijai Kumar, took over as the Central Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) in June 2015. Suddenly, the pendency of complaints and second appeals in his office alone, which used to be between 500 and 1,000 per month, on an average, plummeted to mere 86 in August, 20 in September and 13 in October (the month is yet to complete). Similarly, the pendency in the offices of other Information Commissioners in the Central Information Commission (CIC) in Delhi, also plummeted in a similar way.
Impressive? Not quite, as revealed by the documents uploaded now on the CIC website, www.cic.gov.in
, and studied by noted Delhi based Right to Information (RTI) activist, Commodore Lokesh Batra (retd). Curious to understand why there has been a plunge, he invoked RTI and found out that, at the entry level itself, the CIC office has taken the liberty of rejecting second appeals and complaints, indiscriminately. By not maintaining a central registry of second appeals and complaints received and rejected, the CIC has quite literally murdered transparency.
Cmde Batra says, “My RTI in the Commission revealed that Central Registry does not maintain record of total cases (Appeal and Complaints) received. It also returns bulk of cases to the appellants under various clauses of RTI Rules, but maintain no such record. Since April 2015, my repeated submission to the Senior Officers of the Commission, including a meeting with the Chief Information Commissioner, to ensure transparency by displaying on website complete data of cases received, returned and registered, has not fructified so far. This gives an impression that the Commission is trying to hide factual data of cases.”
“In my perception, sharp decline in registration of cases since mid-June, appears to be a deliberate attempt to give false impression to the citizens about reduction in pendency. What is intriguing is Commissions refusal to maintain data of cases transparently. This completely defeats the purpose of RTI. CIC is the final appellate authority, which an applicant turns to for accessing his right to information,” Cmde Batra says.
The anger is reflected in the online petition steered by US-based RTI activist, Vishal Kudchadkar and addressed the CIC Vijai Kumar. The signed petitions have crossed 1,155 numbers until 1pm Thursday and is growing. Kudchadkar says, “We are overwhelmed by the support the petition has received. The petition will bring to CIC Chief Mr Vijai Sharma’s attention, the CIC registry’s malpractice. We plan to follow up with calling campaigns. We hope that the concerns highlighted by active citizens with media support would encourage Mr Sharma to set the CIC registry in order.”
In the meanwhile, several RTI activists and organisations have decided to boycott some part of the National Convention on RTI to be held on 16th and 17 October 2015, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had excused himself ealier, has decided to address it.
The Petition – `Central Information Commission – don’t kill the RTI Act
You can sign it too, here