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Compliance to the RTI Act, 2005

  • 08 Nov 2019
  • 4 min read

Why in News

The think tank ‘Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy’ has released a report titled, ‘Sunshine in the Courts: Ranking the High Courts on their compliance with the RTI Act’.

  • It developed a ‘Convenience Index’ which evaluates the extent to which the RTI Rules framed by the High Courts make it convenient for citizens to file RTI applications.
  • According to the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005, every High Court is required to draft RTI Rules to lay down a procedure for filing RTI applications.
  • Many High Courts draft RTI Rules, which while legal, make it extremely inconvenient for citizens to file RTI applications by raising unnecessary hurdles.

Key Findings

  • Wide Gap between the judiciary’s pronouncements on the RTI Act and the manner in which the High Courts are implementing it.
  • Violation of the Act
    • Despite Section 8 of the RTI Act restricting the number of grounds for denying information to citizens, the RTI rules of several High Courts have included additional grounds for rejecting requests for information.
      • High Courts at Bombay, Delhi, Gauhati and Gujarat are among the ones which have created additional grounds for non-disclosure of information.
    • There is a lack of good quality proactive disclosures by several High Courts on their websites. This is violative of Section 4(1)(b) of the RTI Act.
  • Transparency
    • There is a lack of administrative transparency and financial transparency within High Courts.
    • Fewer High Courts are only willing to provide copies of their budgets and audit reports under the RTI Act.
  • Payment of Fees
    • High Courts of Allahabad, Chhattisgarh and Gauhati are among the ones which do not recognise convenient modes of payments like postal orders.
      • The High Courts of Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand prescribe only court fee stamps as relevant mode of payment.
    • The Gujarat High Court does not mention any mode of payment, which increases uncertainty for RTI applicants.
  • Ranking on the ‘Convenience Index’
    • On the index, not a single High Court was able to match the convenience offered by the Government of India’s RTI Rules.
    • The High Courts at Patna, Delhi and Kerala performed the best on the index.
    • The High Courts at Gujarat, Madras, Meghalaya and Chhattisgarh performed the worst.
  • In Comparison with the Government of India
    • RTI rules of several High Courts provide for a relatively inconvenient procedure when compared to the RTI rules of the Government of India.
    • For example, many courts currently charge five times the amount charged by the Centre for filing RTI applications.
  • Recommendations
    • The High Courts should publish clearly discernible rules on the website in the local language of the state.
    • Having more modes of payment through the RTI fees in order to make it simple for citizens to file RTI applications.

Source: TH

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