They lobbied hard and pulled strings to get themselves appointed as transparency watchdogs. But nearly three out of four state information commissions across the country quietly skipped celebrating the RTI law’s ninth anniversary in October.
The department of personnel & training (DoPT) – which funds and oversees implementation of the right to information law – said commissions in only eight states had approached the Centre for the Rs 3 lakh assistance available for state information commissions to commemorate the RTI week during October 5-12.
It had funded only seven because the eighth state, Punjab, had not provided utilisation certificates of funds provided to it in previous years. The seven that got the money include commissions in Himachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Maharashtra and the three northeastern states; Nagaland, Mizoram and Sikkim
The Centre had asked all state commissions to send in their proposals earlier in August for taking up various activities including conducting workshops, seminars and competition in colleges on RTI related themes.
RTI activist Lokesh Batra who accessed the information under the RTI Act said the lackadaisical approach of the commissions was shocking.
“It is well known that retiring bureaucrats lobby to become information commissioners for the perks the post offers... But we had hoped for some commitment to the cause of transparency too,” said Batra.
Central Information Commissioners are treated at par with the election commissioners and judges in matters of pay and post-retirement perks.