RTI pleas pile up
About RTI Act:
- The right to information is a fundamental right under Article 19 (1) of the Indian Constitution as per the Supreme Court in Mr. Kulwal v/s Jaipur Municipal Corporation case.
- The Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI Act 2005) was enacted by the Indian Parliament to give legal framework to this fundamental right.
- It replaced the former Freedom of Information Act, 2002.
The Objectives of the Right to Information (RTI) Act:
- Allow the citizens of the country to question the working government.
- Promote transparency and answerability of the working government.
- Check corruption prevailing in the government to serve the citizens better.
- Make citizens well-informed about the functioning of the government system.
International Conventions on Right to Information:
- Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 provided everyone the right to seek, receive, information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
- This formed the basis of Right to Information becoming part of the Fundamental Rights.
- The International Covenant on Civil and Political rights 1966 states that everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression, the freedom to seek and impart information and ideas of all kinds.
Rising RTI cases:
- The number of appeals and complaints pending in 2019, from data obtained from 26 information commissions was 2,18,347.
- In 2020, the number climbed up to 2,33,384 with data obtained from 23 information commissions, in 2021 the number was 2,86,325 with data from 26 commissions and in 2022, it was 3,14,323.
- The highest number of pending cases was in Maharashtra at 99,722, followed by Uttar Pradesh at 44,482, Karnataka at 30,358, the Central Information Commission at 26,724 and Bihar at 21,346.
Other matters of concern:
- Two information commissions (Jharkhand and Tripura) out of 29 across the country have been completely defunct for 29 months and 15 months respectively.
- Manipur, Telangana, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh are without chiefs at the moment.
- Only 5% of all the positions in commissions are being occupied by women.
- Also, multiple information commissions, including the Central Information Commission, are working at reduced capacity with less than the stipulated number of members being in office.
- The commissions did not impose penalties in 95% of the cases where penalties were potentially imposable.
- This data has been collected by Satark Nagrik Sangathan, which is a citizens’ group working to promote transparency and accountability in government functioning and to encourage active participation of citizens in governance in India.