3.2 Crore RTI applications filed since the law was born; Maharashtra leads with highest RTI applications, after CIC
As many as 3.2 crore Indians have filed applications since the Right to Information (RTI) Act came into being on 12 October 2005. The Central Information Commission tops in terms of second appeals with 78.94 lakh. However, Maharashtra tops in the number of RTI applications with 61.80 applications filed by citizens. It is by Tamil Nadu at 26.91 lakh, Karnataka at 22.78 lakh and Kerala at 21.92 RTI applications filed by citizens, reveals a report. 
 
State Governments with below one crore population and receiving the least amount of RTI applications are West Bengal (98,323), Assam (1.83 lakh) and Madhya Pradesh (1. 84 lakh) – one of the factors could be due to non-maintenance of data by State Information Commission (SIC). Smaller states receiving the highest number of RTI applications in this category are Himachal Pradesh (4.84 lakh) and Tripura (42,111).  States receiving lowest number of RTI applications in this category are Tripura (42,111). Manipur (4,374) and Sikkim (5,120).
 
 
The State Transparency Report 2019 has been compiled by Transparency International India, a part of the Transparency International and was released on the eve of the RTI Act anniversary on 12th October. 
 
It is based on detailed information provided, on request, by most of the State Commissions and the CIC. This means that, since the inception of RTI in 2005, only 2.25% of the population has used RTI across the country since its inception. 
 
 
SR Wadhwa, Chairman of Transparency International India observes that, “RTI legislation has been utilised to reorient public policy and it has facilitated the healthy working of democracy. It is a tool to make the governance system transparent and accountable and definitely not a weapon against the government.”
 
Tamil Nadu leads in the states receiving maximum number of second appeals at 4.61 lakh; the union government at 2.79 lakh, Maharashtra at 77,228, Karnataka at 1.65 lakh and Bihar at 1.58 lakh. State governments receiving fewer second appeals among states having more than one crore population are Telangana (10,619), West Bengal (20,058), Jharkhand (32,481), Kerala (33, 218) and Uttarakhand (41, 861)
 
 
While 24 out of 155 posts Information Commissioner (at central and state level) are vacant, the numbers of filled up vacancies are better than 48 posts, which were not filled up in 2018. Out of these, only seven women Information Commissioners have been appointed, which is approximately 4.5% of total sanctioned posts.
 
The press release of TII states, “now in the 15th year of RTI Act’s implementation when draconian amendments are being incorporated and challenges are being faced, it is an opportune time to look into the State of RTI implementation in Indian States and check whether the act’s implementation has met the intention of the legislation.’’
 
The report provides not only structural analysis but also policy review of the Right to Information legislation. It says, “Our report concretely focuses on most important sections of the Act – Section 25(2), Section 18 (1) and Section 19(3), Section 20 (1) and Section 25 (1) of the RTI Act, 2005. Along with that, information and analysis related to post and vacancy, budget, cases of threat and harassment and website of Information Commissions is also analyzed in this report.”
 
Mr Wadhwa says, “It is high time to stand united to fight & reinvent the network of pro-transparency civil society groups of country to intensify struggle for the Right to Information 2.0.”
 
 
As for the penalty imposed on PIOs:
 
  • 15,578 cases in penalty imposed on public authorities by State Information Commissions (excluding Union Government) during 2005-06 to 2018-19. 

 

  • In the last three year, Rs81.82 imposed by Uttarakhand State Information Commission.  

 

  • 15,578 cases of penalty was imposed by State Information Commissions (excluding Central Information Commission) during 2005-06 to 2018-19.

 

  • Highest Penalty Imposed in last 3 years

 

  • Rs81.82 lakh by Uttarakhand State Information Commission

 

  • Rs49.20 lakh by Rajasthan State Information Commission

 

  • Top States where Maximum No. of Cases of  Penalty Imposed 

 

  • Haryana (2,692) from 2006-07 to 2018-19

 

  • Rajasthan (2,803), from 2008-09 to 2016-17

 

  • Uttar Pradesh (1,438) only two year data (2017/18 & 2018/19) as disclosed by SIC.

 

  • Uttarakhand (1,223) data from 2006-07 to 2018-19

 

  • Andhra Pradesh (1,150) data available from CY 2007 to 2014 as disclosed by SIC.
 
(Vinita Deshmukh is consulting editor of Moneylife, an RTI activist and convener of the Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan. She is the recipient of prestigious awards like the Statesman Award for Rural Reporting which she won twice in 1998 and 2005 and the Chameli Devi Jain award for outstanding media person for her investigation series on Dow Chemicals. She co-authored the book “To The Last Bullet - The Inspiring Story of A Braveheart - Ashok Kamte” with Vinita Kamte and is the author of “The Mighty Fall”.)
Comments
P M Ravindran
4 years ago
The following facts, about the ICs (both commissions and commissioners) are placed on record:
-The ICs haven't themselves complied with the mandate of Sec 4(1)(b) of the RTI Act.
- The ICs do not take up cases (complaints/2nd appeals) on FIFO basis. The Act provides for only information related to life and liberty to be provided on priority. Thus only complaints/appeals related to these can be allowed to be taken up on priority.
-They do not follow the mandate of the Sec 20 correctly. To elucidate, this section mandates that the PIO be given an opportunity to being heard before imposing the mandatory penalty. It implies that the need to impose the penalty should have been established (it is possible based on the records submitted with the appeal) before calling for hearing. It also implies that it is not merely calling for 'reports' or for a hearing but a actually a show cause notice for not imposing penalty with the option of submitting the reasons in a written form with or without personal hearing.
- The response to this show cause notice is the information that has to be communicated to the appellant for his information and counter arguments.
-The 2nd appeal is complete in itself, if the application, reply by the PIO, 1st appeal and the reply by the FAA are annexed to it. Hence it is easy for the IC to sift what all information sought had been provided and denied.
-It is only in the case of information denied or provided with delay, that the IC has to seek the explanation from the PIO seeking the valid reasons for denying/delaying them. It implies that the notice from the IC is specific about this information that had been denied/delayed.
-The mandate of Sec 20 is to penalise even for delay beyond 30 days and there is no choice with the IC. There are many cases when even after ordering the PIOs to provide information the ICs fail to impose the penalty which would by them be the maximum of Rs 25000/-.
-The ICs have been treacherously not following this procedure and even accepting illegal reasons like the information is not available (without giving any legally valid reason) or simply that the applicant has been provided an opportunity to check files and collect it from their office.
- The violations by the ICs are so blatant that they can be easily prosecuted under Sec 219 of the IPC.

But then our courts are not the ideal role models for dispensation of justice, are they? And so the charade goes on and on...
BR
Replied to P M Ravindran comment 4 years ago
I did not know that ICs are so notorious. Why do they not support the purpise of the act & punish the PIO who delays & DODGES by giving no reason to deny or delay infmn. I know 2 instances of not imposing penalty. One was when a CPIO forwarded a petition to another CPIO but ignorantly did not send a copy of that advice to the Petitioner who did not know that the petition was forwarded. He complained that it was not replied. CIC threatened CPIO with Penalty for not replying. He did not finally award it.
Ranbir Lamba
4 years ago
In a way 3.2crore are not satisfied with transparency/governance that is why took RTI act
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