A report on the performance of various information commissions across the country has revealed that more than 2 lakh appeals and complaints are pending for disposal at various stages.
Using data on the backlog of appeals and complaints and their monthly disposal rates, the report further highlights that Andhra Pradesh has the longest estimated waiting period of 18 years for disposal of cases.
The report has been compiled by Satark Nagrik Sangathan, a citizens’ group working to promote transparency and accountability in the government.
As per the report, a total number of 2,18,347 appeals and complaints were pending for disposal across 26 information commissions of the country till March 31, 2019.
The largest number of complaints were pending from Uttar Pradesh with 52,326 cases followed by Maharashtra (45,796 cases) and the Central Information Commission (29,995 cases).
The report titled ‘Report Cards of Information Commissions 2018-19’ was released to coincide with the 14th anniversary of the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005 on Saturday.
“The comparative data for these three commissions show that the number of cases pending increased by 20 per cent between March 31, 2018 and March 31, 2019. The information commissions of Bihar, Karnataka and Uttarakhand did not provide requisite information on the backlog of appeals and complaints under the RTI Act. The information was also not available on their websites,” states the report.
As part of the assessment procedure, though a total of 129 RTI applications were filed seeking identical information from all the 29 information commissions, only 12 out of them provided full information in response to the queries.
The report is primarily based on an analysis of information accessed under the RTI Act from the 29 information commissions. A total of 129 RTI applications were filed with 29 state information commissions (SIC) and the Central Information Commission (CIC).
“The experience in India, also captured in various national assessments on the implementation of the RTI Act, suggests that the functioning of information commissions is a major bottleneck in the effective implementation of the RTI law,” states the report.
As per the report, West Bengal (7 years and 5 months) and Odisha (4 years and 3 months) followed Andhra Pradesh in average waiting period for disposal of cases.
The assessment found that several information commissions were either non-functional or functioning with reduced capacities.
Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan were functioning without a Chief State Information Commissioner. The Central Information Commission in December 2018 was functioning with just three information commissioners even as eight posts, including that of the chief, were vacant, states the report. (IANS)