A favourable order from an information commissioner under the Right to Information (RTI) Act does not guarantee an applicant the information from the concerned government department.
A study by the National RTI Awards Secretariat has found that there is only a 39% chance of getting the information sought despite a favourable order from an information commissioner.
The National RTI Awards Secretariat, formed under the Public Cause Research Foundation (PCRF), released its report on Wednesday.
The National RTI Awards 2009 will be held on December 1, when the best information commissioner award will be given.
“For the purpose of this study, orders passed in 51,128 cases by the information commissioners and benches during 2008 were analysed,” said Magsaysay awardee Arvind Kejriwal of the PCRF.
The study rates states and information commissioners on four key metrics — overall public satisfaction, effectiveness, deterrent impact and pro-disclosure factor.
The analysis did not include Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Sikkim.
The study found that orders were passed in favour of disclosure in 34,980 cases.
The awards secretariat wrote letters to the applicants asking whether they finally received satisfactory information after
the commission’s orders. Nearly 6,000 people responded, of which only 39% reported having received the information sought.
“This means that if a hundred people approached information commissions, only 27 finally received information,” Kejriwal said.
“Only 39% of the pro-disclosure orders were complied with. Despite a favourable order, 61% did not get satisfactory information. The RTI act gives powers of summons, penalties, arrests, production of documents, etc. Barring penalties, these powers were never invoked by any commissioner.”
The study found that 2% of the officers who did not provide the information ordered were penalised.