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”.