The government has notified a new set of rules for moving the Central Information Commission (CIC) against government departments, laying down the basic standards that an RTI appeal must have before it is taken up by the information watchdog.
The new rules were notified by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) at the request of the CIC that has been grappling with incoherent and incomplete appeals.
Chief Information Commissioner Satyananda Mishra said the commission had not insisted on a format or content of an appeal in the initial phase since the implementation of the law was still in its infancy.
"But now that the number of RTI appeals has gone up, it has become extremely difficult for us to cope with incomplete, and sometimes illegible appeals," Mishra told Hindustan Times.In the past, the CIC has accepted letters written to the commission as formal appeals and got around to putting together the necessary paperwork on its own.
With nearly a million RTI pleas filed annually, the proportion of appeals has also increased considerably. As the commission head, Mishra has to deal with about 1,233 pending appeals.
As a result of the backlog, the applicants will have to wait for about 8 to 12 months before the information commissioner can take up the cases.
The new rules — notified on July 31 but not yet put in public domain by the DoPT — not only lists the documents that will need to accompany an appeal but also lays down a format for the applications.
Deviation from the format, however, will not be a ground for rejecting an appeal. This is to ensure there is no discrimination against the poor.