BENGALURU: THERE has been a 10-fold increase in the number of RTI applications to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) between 2006-07 and 2014-15, an analysis by Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), an NGO, reveals.
Statistics show that number of RTI applications filed with the PMO has increased from three per day in 2006-07 to 35 a day in 2014-15. It is also revealed that the rate of rejection of RTI applications has also gone up from 18.57 per cent in 2006-07 to 22.10 per cent in 2014-15.
Interestingly, the number of RTI applications filed with the PMO as well as rejection rate of RTI requests have increased after Narendra Modi took charge as Prime Minister in May 2014. For instance, the PMO has received a record 12,993 RTI applications during 2014-15 compared to 7,282 in 2013-14. Not surprisingly, the percentage of rejection of RTI queries is also the highest during Modi’s term at 22.10 per cent in 2014-15.
Venkatesh Nayak, programme coordinator of CHRI, which analysed the RTI data of PMO based on annual reports of Central Information Commission, said: “A section of the media recently reported that PMO claimed to have received about 10 lakh RTI applications between June 1, 2014 and January 31, 2016.
Although the text of the RTI applications and the replies are not uploaded on the PMO website, this number seems to be an exaggeration.”
He said PMO has received only 42,258 RTI applications between 2006-07 and 2014-15.
“It is quite possible that letters, petitions, grievances, emails, SMSes etc., received by the PMO from various sources may reach the figure of 10 lakh.
But PMO’s claims of 10 lakh RTI applications between June 1, 2014 and January 31, 2016 is not correct as only requests formally made to the Public Information Officer in accordance with the procedures given under the RTI Act and accompanied by an application fee of `10 or a BPL certificate should be counted as a valid RTI application,” he said.
Nayak said proactive disclosure of information on websites will reduce the number of RTI queries. “For instance, the PMO website provides information about the salary paid to the PMO officials, including their pay scale, but there is no information about the salary paid to the Prime Minister or to his ministers. There is no reason why the actual salary drawn by every Prime Minister cannot be disclosed.
In fact, the Prime Minister may have no hesitation in disclosing such information, given his firm commitment to transparency, announced publicly from time to time,” he added.