The Telegraph
Friday , October 10 , 2014
 

Study (not RTI) finds 1.98 lakh cases pending before Information Commissions

New Delhi, Oct. 10 (PTI): India’s Right to Information (RTI) machinery is creaking under the backlog of over 1.98 lakh cases, including disposal of appeals and complaints, pending before Information Commissions.

And this nugget was not unearthed by another RTI, but by a study.

”The maximum number of appeals/complaints are pending in Uttar Pradesh (48,442) followed by Maharashtra (32,390) and Central Information Commission (26,115) as on December 2013,” according to a report compiled by the RTI Assessment and Advocacy Group (RaaG).

The study says that a total backlog of 1,98,739 cases is pending in 23 Information Commissions across the country.

”There were no backlogs in Mizoram, Sikkim and Tripura,” it said.

The report has been compiled on the basis of the Right to Information applications filed by RaaG to 28 Information Commissions to seek information on their functioning.

The report, titled “Peoples Monitoring of the RTI regime in India 2011-2013”, said that 23 of the 28 information commissions across the country including the Central Information Commission (CIC), provided statistics on the number of appeals and complaints received and disposed.

While Maharashtra received the highest number of appeals and complaints (73,968) during 2012-2013, followed by CIC (62,723) and UP (62,008), in terms of disposal Maharashtra State Information Commission disposed the highest number of appeals and complaints (61,442) followed by UP (60,875) and CIC (47,662), it said.

During the same period, the number of cases in which penalty was imposed in 21 states, were 3,870 which amounts to just 1.57 per cent of the number of cases disposed.

”Data suggests that ICs are imposing penalties in less than 4 per cent of the cases in which they are imposable, there by not only casing huge loss to the exchequer but also encouraging PIOs not to give information to the applicants,” said Shekhar Singh, one of the research coordinators.

Compensation was awarded in 1339 cases during 2011-2013. Information Commissions of Haryana and Karnataka awarded the highest amount of compensation, Rs 7,69,900 and Rs 7,50,490 respectively.

”In interviews with serving and retired information commissioners, several constraints in the functioning of information commissions were highlighted, the most critical one cited by majority of them was lack of adequate support to the commissioners, both legal and administrative,” said Shekhar.