On RTI law’s tenth anniversary, the information watchdog is coming under the scanner.
A civil society-driven analysis of 2,000 verdicts delivered by the Central Information Commission and state panels in three states have indicted the info watchdogs for over 15 counts, right from forcing applicants to pay for delayed information or deciding cases in violation of the law.
Besides the central information commission, the study commissioned by the National Campaign for Peoples’ Right to Information (NCPRI) took up verdicts delivered in three states, Rajasthan, Bihar and Assam. It classified the shortcomings into 15 categories.
The orders were analysed in terms of their conformity with the law, clarity of reasoning and completeness in terms of listing the relevant information. More than half of all orders analysed did not record the critical facts such as dates, information sought, decision by public authority and grounds for their decision. This leads to lack of accountability as the legitimacy of orders cannot be judged in absence of the facts of the case, said Anjali Bhardwaj.
Central information commissioner M Sridhar Acharyulu said he could not respond without studying the interim findings but agreed with its conclusion: that the generous dose of training could do a great deal of good to the information commissioners, and right to information appellants.
Acharyulu, however, cautioned against mechanical application of the law, arguing that if the CIC went strictly by the law and rules, it would have to turn back most appellants.
PM to keep his date with RTI
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the RTI convention later this week to mark the 10th year of the transparency law.
The PM’s decision comes just a day after the Congress called his inability to make it to the convention to commemorate the transparency law as a “manifestation of the larger design to kill the Right to Information Act”.
The Prime Minister’s Office had earlier advised the central information commission to shift the convention by a few days from October 12-13 to October 16-17 in view of his other engagements. Finance minister Arun Jaitley was
requested to stand in for Modi. But the PMO had second thoughts on Tuesday. “We have just now received information that the PM would be able to come,” a government source told HT.