Last week, a report compiled by Satark Nagrik Sangathan and the Centre for Equity Studies spoke about the objective of the RTI act getting defeated. The issue in contention here was the pendency of over 2.2 lakh RTI cases in Central and various State Information Commission.
This issue has been aggravated by the fact that most of the Information Commissions are working on reduced capacity and that the Central Information Commission has been leaderless for the last three months.
The report, published on the 15th anniversary of the RTI act, showed Maharashtra state having the maximum pendency of RTI cases at 59,000 cases pending. Another startling discovery published in the report said that the pace at which Odisha State Information Commission was disposing complaints, it would take seven years to dispose all complaints! But the question here arises, why is it taking so long?
According to the law, every commission, be it State or Central, has to have one chief and 10 commissioners. But the following examples will give you a glimpse at the gross violation of this law. Odisha is functioning with just four commissioners, while Rajasthan has only three. Jharkhand and Tripura have no commissioners at all and have been non-functioning for the last few months. The states are not the only ones at fault. The Central Information Commission has no chief and only five commissioners.
Further analysis found that non-imposition of penalties on inefficient government officials was one of the main causes behind the pendency. As officials knew that there would be little or no repercussions to their inefficiency, they became lazier and more inefficient.
At a time where people need to become more and more inclusive in the process of governance, such tools are highly valuable. If such tools, which are used for keeping a check on governance, break down, a heavy obstacle will be created in the path of keeping governments and their governance in check. Therefore, it is becoming increasingly important for governments to become more efficient in matters related to Right to Information.
Image Credits: The Hindu