Even nine years after the implementation of the Right to Information (RTI) Act, the involvement of women in the process of seeking information on important public issues in the state has been minimal.
Figures available with the State Information Commission (SIC) reveal that women constitute less than 6% of all RTI applicants who filed appeals or complaints with the commission from year 2005 till September 2014.
Sources said that in all about 34,520 appeals and complaints were received at the commission in the duration, but only 1976 (5.72%) of them were from women applicants. Rest of the 32, 544 cases are related to male applicants.
RTI activist Ajay Dubey has said that this situation does not augur well for the democratic set-up, especially when more women are becoming official public representatives with 50% reservation in the local civic bodies.
"There should be efforts for increasing their participation in the RTI process and one way could be appointment of women information commissioners. During the last nine years, there has not been a single woman commissioner in the state," he said.
Proactive disclosure lacking
The activist has pointed out that one of the major problems with RTI implementation in MP is the failure of the state government to ensure proactive disclosure of important public information.
Information on projects set up under public-private partnership (PPP) mode and important schemes like the public distribution system and the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) should be made public under section 4 of the RTI Act, Dubey has said.
He has also pointed out that the government has failed to include RTI in school syllabus despite recommendation of the SIC.
With the fresh constitution of the SIC in February this year, the speed of disposal of appeals and complaints have picked up. Figures show that during last six months (from February 11 to August 31), the state chief information commissioner and five information commissioners managed to dispose 3,748 appeals and complaints.
Yet, as the commission remained dysfunctional for almost two years in 2012 and 13, there are still 12,828 appeals and 2287 complaints pending for disposal.