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 the appeal will have to meet to be taken up.
The new rules were notified by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) at the request of the CIC that was 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 at its own initiative.
With nearly a million RTI applications filed annually, the proportion of appeals has also increased considerably. As the CIC, Mishra has about 1,233 pending appeals to deal with.
As a result of the backlog, a denial of information appeal would have to wait for about 8 to 12 months before the information commissioner can take up the case.
The new rules – notified on 31 July but yet not put in public domain by DoPT – not only lists the documents that would need to accompany an appeal but also lays down a format for the applications.
Deviation from the format would not be a ground for rejecting an appeal to ensure that the poor were not discriminated against.
But for the rest, “I think it is only fair to expect people to cooperate with us”.