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Governance

14th Anniversary of Right To Information

  • 12 Oct 2019
  • 5 min read

An important instrument of participatory democracy-Right To Information (RTI) has marked its 14th anniversary on 12th october 2019.

  • To mark the occasion, the ‘Report Card on the Performance of Information Commissions in India’ has been released by the NGOs, Satark Nagrik Sangathan and the Centre for Equity Studies.

Key Findings

  • Achievements
    • RTI is one of the landmark acts which has led to a significant boost in accountability of the govt towards the people.
      • It has given ordinary citizens the confidence and the right to ask questions to the government authorities.
    • RTI ensured the maintenance and publication of public records.
      • Section 4 of the RTI Act makes it a duty of public authorities to maintain records for easy access
    • It also ensured transparency as well as accountability between citizens and public authorities.
    • RTI emphasizes citizen centric approach.
    • It assured information accessibility at every level of public governance.
    • According to estimates, nearly 60 lakh applications are being filed every year.
  • Challenges
    • Government officials face hardly any punishment for violating the law by denying applicants legitimate information.
      • It destroys the basic framework of incentives and disincentives built into the RTI Act.
    • State and Central Information Commissions, which are the courts of appeal under the RTI Act, failed to impose penalties in about 97% of the cases where violations took place.
      • The State Commissions of Tamil Nadu, Sikkim, Mizoram and Tripura did not impose penalties in any cases at all.
    • The commissions also have the power to recommend disciplinary action against officials for persistent violations of the RTI Act.
      • Only 10 states invoked these powers.
    • Many Information Commissions are non-functional or are functioning at reduced capacity as the posts of commissioners, including that of the chief information commissioner are vacant.
      • The State Information Commission(SIC) of the state of Andhra Pradesh is yet to become functional.
      • The State Information Commission of West Bengal is currently functioning with just two commissioners.
      • The Chief Information Commissioner of Maharashtra retired in April 2017 and the government is yet to appoint a new Chief
    • The central, as well as state commissions, have an increasing workload, which is leading to huge pendency of cases.
      • Any new appeal to the Central Information Commission (CIC) would have to wait more than one-and-a-half years for resolution.

Central Information Commission (CIC)

  • CIC was established in 2005 by the Central Government under the provisions of Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005.
  • The Chief Information Commissioner heads the Central Information Commission.
  • It hears appeals from information-seekers who have not been satisfied by the public authority and also addresses major issues concerning the RTI Act.
  • CIC submits an annual report to the Union government on the implementation of the provisions of RTI Act.

State Information Commission

  • The Right to Information Act of 2005 provides for the creation of a State Information Commission at the state level.
  • The State Information Commission is a high powered independent body which inter-alia looks into the complaints made to it and decide the appeals.
  • It entertains complaints and appeals pertaining to offices, financial institutions, public sector undertakings, etc.under the concerned state government.
  • The Commission consists of a State Chief Information Commissioner and not more than ten State Information Commissioners appointed by the Governor.

Source: TH

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