Disposal of RTI Cases Shockingly Slow in State

Almost 90 pc of departments, HODs etc., failed to disclose information online

Published: 10th March 2015 06:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 10th March 2015 03:59 AM   |  A+A-

HYDERABAD: Nine months after the erstwhile Andhra Pradesh state was bifurcated and two new governments have taken over, a state of apathy seems to have cropped in as far as the implementation of Right to Information act is concerned. While the rate of disposal of RTI second appeals and complaints is at a staggering low, it is shocking to know that almost 90 per cent of the departments, HODs and the districts of both states have failed to disclose information online as per under Section 4(1)(b).

Section 4(1)(b) of the RTI act makes it mandatory for all public authorities to disclose all information regarding its functions, duties, revenues, expenditures etc. The State Information Commission, which continues to be under schedule 10 of the Union government, however, functions at present for both the states and its information commissioners continue to hold the same portfolios.

Going by the figures of cases received by the information commission ie; appeals plus complaints and cases disposed during a period between June 2014 and March 2015 and comparing the same with figures from the same period the previous year, the widening gap is evident.

The statistics reveal that the rate of disposal of cases after the two new governments have taken charge is a meagre 42.9 per cent compared to a healthy 83.4 per cent in the same period the previous year. The rate of disposal for the previous year, June 2012 to March 2013, was 91.4 per cent.

The increasing number of second appeals reaching the information commission ie; 11,773 between June 2014 and March 2015; compared to 9,516 between June 2013 and March 2014 only indicate the lack of responsiveness from Public Information Officers and First Appellate Authorities at the respective departments.

According to State Information Commissioners here, “Right To Information is pretty much kept under anesthesia.”. State Information Commissioner P Vijaya Babu said: “What is happening is dilution of RTI. Most of the heads of departments and IAS officers are intentionally not attending to RTI duties. Even when we give our judgments, many of them do not implement the commission’s directions for conduct of inquiry.”

They believe the situation exists as the RTI Act gives a provision where in Appellate Authorities cannot be imposed with fine and hence not liable to duties as per the Act. However, the same Act also comprises another provision wherein the commissioner can treat the Appellate authority as a deemed PIO if he/she is found to withhold information and impose a penalty of up to `25,000.

“Without proper knowledge or due to bureaucratic arrogance, officers are trying to override the provisions of the Act. They must remember that the commissions powers are vested in civil courts,” he added.

RTI applications

June 2014 to March 2015

Cases received: 11,773

Total cases disposed: 5,059

June 2013 to March 2014

Total cases Received: 9,516

Total cases Disposed: 7,937

June 2012 to March 2013

Total cases received?: 7,907

Total cases disposed: 7,230

2012

Cases received: 7,881

Cases disposed: 7,341

2013

Cases received: 10,895

Cases disposed: 9,534

2014

Cases received: 14,066

Cases disposed: 8,874

Jan to March 2015

Cases received: 3099

Cases disposed: 227

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