Nearly 20,000 Right to Information (RTI) appeals concerning central ministries are waiting to be disposed but there just aren't enough hands to do the job. Chief central information commissioner Satyananda Mishra has written at least two letters to the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) asking for the five vacancies to the post of chief information commissioner be filled up, but to no avail.
The RTI Act has sanctioned 10 information commissioners (IC) and one chief information commissioner. Currently, only five central information commissioners and are operating and the extra workload is burdening the existing staff. Mishra wrote to the PMO in June and July pointing out the vacancies, but got response. In his letters addressed to principal secretary to the PM, Mishra stated that five IC posts remain vacant since December 2010, which has led to over 17,000 pending appeals, despite each commissioner disposing 300 cases monthly. Mishra also pointed out that such a large backlog would spell a complete failure of the RTI mechanism, as information provided after two years would be worthless. The copies of both the letters are available with Hindustan Times.
“At present, each of our commissioners is handling 10-12 ministries, departments, various public undertakings and banks. This adds a huge load on the existing commissioners and creates a backlog,” said Satyananda Mishra, chief central information commissioner. The information commissioners claimed that there was no effort made by the government to appoint commissioners. “Even though the government claims that the transparency law is their priority, it doesn't seem to be the case. This is evident from the lack of urgency shown in the appointment of information commissioners,” said Shailesh Gandhi, central information commissioner.