Functioning of state information panels takes a hit: Survey
The working of the state information commissions (SICs) dropped from 80% in June to 44% in July, a survey by the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) has found.
The CHRI is an organisation working towards greater transparency in governance. The survey was conducted contacting each of 28 SICs. The first survey (in April) had found that none of the SICs were working, but during the second survey (in May) 12 SICs had opened their offices, but only eight were conducting hearings. According to its third rapid telephonic survey, the organisation found that the commissions that had previously started attending to litigants June had stopped by July.
“We found, out of the 29 Information Commissions nearly 80% (23 Commissions) had resumed hearings during Unlock1.0 starting on 1st June, 2020,” says CHRI’s report. The Central Information Commission began functioning in mid-April.
“We continued to track the working of Information Commissions during the Unlock 2.0 phase... This time we found, only 44% Information Commissions under The Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI Act), i.e., 13 out of 29 Commissions were conducting hearings during Unlock 2.0 starting on 1st July,” the report adds.
SIC officials say that reason for the hearings stopping in July is because of the spike in Covid-19 cases across the country. However, the inability to conduct the hearings has drawn criticism from social activists for denying people access to information.