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”.)
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    COMMENTS

    P M Ravindran

    1 day 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...

    REPLY

    BR

    In Reply to P M Ravindran 8 hours 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

    5 days ago

    In a way 3.2crore are not satisfied with transparency/governance that is why took RTI act

    How Puneites Can Save the City from “Catastrophic” Deluge Disaster
    Encroachments on hills, hill slopes and flood lines of river banks; cementing of nullahs, small streams and aquifers during construction; absence or wrong design of storm water drains and; plastic litter choking water bodies, has led to a grave situation in Pune, which surfaces as life threatening water logging (as was seen on 5th and 25th September); during torrential rains that have been lashing Pune due to climate change.
     
    These grave concerns were raised at the 300th RTI Katta organised by the RTI Katta group and Moneylife Foundation on Sunday. The expert panel comprising civic experts Sarang Yadvakar, Vinod Bodhankar, Abhijit Ghorpade and Vijay Kumbhar, stated in unison and in a note of emergency that, it is time for Puneites to raise their voices and put pressure on the Pune Municipal Corp (PMC), in large numbers, as their lives are being threatened due to illegal encroachments and criminal mismanagement of the civic authority. 
     
    Mr Yadvadkar gave a detailed presentation of the havoc created due to unholy nexus of civic authorities, local political leaders and builder and developer body that has led to illegal building permissions and encroachments since the last two decades. This has led to a “catastrophic” situation, he said. 
     
     
    He further warned that the two days of heavy rains on 5th and 25th September this year, which resulted in deaths of several citizens is but a trailer. “As per the climate change report provided by The Energy and Resource Institute (TERI), on behalf of the PMC, which assigned it the task, the city will face the maximum amount of rains in short spells that will lead to dangerous flash flooding, with every passing year.  Hence, it is essential now for citizens to come out in large numbers to protest against PMC’s disastrous acts and put pressure on it to stop development on hills, hill slopes, put in place an effective storm water drain system, clear water bodies of debris and halt construction in flood line demarcations of the Mula and Mutha rivers.’’
     
    Abhijit Ghorpade, senior journalist and academician who has written extensively on this issue stated that, “first and foremost, we need to establish a communication and warning system by which citizens are immediately forewarned, about the areas, chowks and roads where flooding has taken place and warned that they should not go there. Presently, a commuter comes to know of rising waters only after he or she has almost reached the spot amidst great traffic chaos. The sudden rise in water levels catches them unawares, which has resulted in people being washed away, while driving in their two-wheelers and four-wheelers.”
     
    Right to Information (RTI) activist Vijay Kumbhar says, “It is written in the Pune Smart City Vision document that sophisticated intelligent systems would be put in place for quick communication where citizens of one corner of the city will instantly come to know of any disaster or information required to be disseminated within minutes, but little has happened so far. So now the onus has come on citizens to do ground work and help themselves in being forewarned about areas of deluge during rains.”
     
     
    In the 5th September torrential rains, Victor Sangela and Salim Shaikh, were washed away – in all 26 people died. While Salim’s body was located after a few days later, Victor’s body has yet not been recovered. The WhatsApp messages put up by their families, when they went missing, will give you gooseflesh and will make you realise that you could well be the next victim. 
     
    Victor’s family member stated in the WhatsApp message: “Victor Sangale, our cousin has been missing for over 8 hours. He was driving to Wanowrie, when his car was swept away due to floodwaters at the bridge near Ganga Satellite and Raheja Gardens. He was driving a white Tata Tiago with license plate MH 12 RK 8732. If anyone has more information please inform the family members and or the emergency numbers.”
     
     
    Salim Shaikh’s brother sent this WhatsApp message: “Saalim Shaikh, my brother has been missing for over 12 hours now. He was driving to Wanowrie when his car was swept away due to floodwaters at the bridge near Ganga Satellite and Raheja Gardens. He was driving Honda Civic car. If anyone has more information or has seen anybody there at the spot then please contact emergency services and also the family members on their mobile numbers.”
     
    Vinod Bodhankar, who has done extensive work and campaigning in schools and housing societies of the hazards of plastic waste and how to control it at individual and community levels, stated that “plastic litter blocking pipes, nullahs, river beds, bund gates and roadsides of Pune has further accentuated flooding during rains.” 
     
    He said that controlling plastic litter can play a big role in controlling flooding and hence, every citizen should get involved in collecting plastic trash in a bag and giving it to organisations like his which pay to give collected plastic trash for proper reuse and recycle.
     
    The immediate way forward to taking this issue forward is to share the presentations made by Mr Yadvadkar and Mr Bodhankar with friends, housing society members, community groups, educational institutions and social organisations, so that citizens know the intensity of the alarming situation. Also, to collect data of which roads and chowks to avoid during heavy rains so that citizens are forewarned. This information would be shared through social media. Each one in the audience was requested to make individual efforts to put pressure on the PMC by writing an email to the municipal commissioner demanding action.
     
    (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”.)
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    User

    COMMENTS

    Ranbir Lamba

    5 days ago

    Carry on drive to check who gave sanctions to such dangerous projects. Punish them heavily+ Recover loss + pack them
    Lesson to all for further too.

    Rajasthan RTI activist dies in police custody
    A Right to Information (RTI) activist has allegedly died in police custody in Rajasthan's Barmer after which the district's Superintendent of Police (SP) took disciplinary action against eight of the station's staffers.
     
    SP Sharad Chowdhary said: "Three people including the RTI activist Jagdish Golia were brought to the Pachpadra police station on Sunday following a complaint received against them for indulging in a fight. All three of them were cousins and the fight broke out due to some land dispute."
     
    While the activist's cousins were granted bail after being produced before a tehsildar, Golia's health deteriorated when he was to be produced before the former. 
     
    He was immediately rushed to the Nahata Hospital where he was declared brought dead.
     
    Further investigation is on in the case, Chowdhary added.
     
    An FIR has been registered against the police staff which also includes a Station House Officer (SHO).
     
    Golia's post-mortem will be conducted in the presence of the District Magistrate and the Judicial Magistrate.
     
    Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.
  • User

    COMMENTS

    P M Ravindran

    1 day ago

    Sorry the earlier comment was wrongly posted here as something went wrong when the page was refreshed.

    P M Ravindran

    1 day 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...

    GLN Prasad

    1 week ago

    When the fight in between cousins is on land dispute, mentioning the occupation (?) RTI Activist, is not good journalism.

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