Right to Information

Right to Information

 

KEY TRENDS 

 
• A total of 7.55 lakh (755,247) RTI applications were received by the reporting public authorities in 2014-15. This is about 79,000 fewer RTI applications received in 2013-14. The CIC report notes this decline in the number of RTIs received. However almost 90,000 RTI applications were pending decision at the start of the reporting year of 2014-15 *@

• Around 67 percent of men and 54 percent of women interviewed in the Street Corner Surveys in Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar and the National Capital Region of Delhi stated that they had heard of the RTI Act. 92 percent of the applicants across the sample states and governments were male, and 8 percent were female **

• 32 percent of RTI applicants interviewed in urban areas (in Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar and the NCR of Delhi) said that they learnt about the RTI Act through newspapers. 15 percent said that they learnt about it through friends and family, and 13 percent through television. Among rural RTI applicants, newspapers were the leading source of information about the RTI Act (35 percent) followed by books at 22 percent and television (14 percent). 13 percent heard about the RTI Act through family or friends while still others had heard about the Act through NGOs, internet or through public meetings **

• A little less than a half (49.46 percent) of the State Information Commissioners are retired civil servants belonging to either the All India Services or the State Civil Services. This proportion has come down from 53 percent in 2012 @

• More than 3/4ths of the Information Commissions do not have a website in the local language. The CIC and the State Information Commissions of Chhattisgarh. Gujarat, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh have local language websites @

• The Department-related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice relating to The Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2013 has supported the Central Government's proposal of amending the RTI Act to keep all political parties out of the ambit of the transparency law and nullify the June 2013 order of the Central Information Commission declaring all six national political parties as public authorities under that law. Only one MP- Ms. Anu Aga who is a nominated member of the Rajya Sabha has put in a dissenting note opposing the Bill #

• The Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2013 seeks to amend the Right to Information Act, 2005 in order to nullify order of full Bench of Central Information Commission (CIC) of 3rd June, 2013 (resting in File No. CIC/SM/C/2011/001386 and CIC/SM/C/2011/000838) bringing six national political parties (AICC/INC, BJP, CPI(M), CPI, NCP and BSP) under the ambit of RTI Act by making liberal interpretation of the term 'public authority' mentioned under Section 2(h) of the RTI Act #

• On the eighth anniversary of India's landmark transparency legislation on 12 October 2013, data mined on the Right to Information (RTI) Act by Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) shows it is, indeed, India's sunshine law, with an estimated 40 lakh people using the Act during 2011-12, the latest year for which all-India data is available $

• The largest number of rejections of RTI applications (15,279) in public authorities under Central Government occurred on the grounds of protecting personal privacy [Central RTI Act, Section 8(1)(j)]. More than 4,000 RTI applications are said to have been rejected because they pertained to the 25 intelligence and security organisations notified by the Central Government under Section 24 of the Central RTI Act $

• The total value of the penalties imposed by the Central Information Commission and the State Information Commissions of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra were the highest crossing Rs. 35 lakhs (Rs. 3.5 million) each $

• Right to Information enacted in 2005 is meant to ensure transparency and accountability in governance

• The RTI (2005) is considered as the most effective tool to counter corruption and empower citizens

• Freedom of expression is protected in Article 19 of the Constitution of India*

• In 1982, the Supreme Court of India ruled that access to government information was an essential part of the fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression*

• The Freedom of Information Act 2002 (FOIA) was passed in December 2002 by the Government of India and received the Presidential assent in January 2003*

• In the early-1990s, in the course of the struggle of the rural poor in Rajasthan, the Mazdoor Kisaan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS) hit upon a novel way to demonstrate the importance of information in an individual's life -- through public hearings or Jan Sunwais*

*@ Annual Report of the Central Information Commission (CIC) for 2014-15 (as informed by Venkatesh Nayak, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative)
 
** People's Monitoring of the RTI Regime in India 2011-13 (published in October 2014), which has been prepared by RTI Assessment and Advocacy Group (RAAG) and Samya -Centre for Equity Studies (CES) (Please click here to download)
 
@ Information Commissions and the Use of RTI Laws in India 2014 (Rapid Study 2.0) done by Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), published in July 2014 (please click here to download the report)
 
# Department-related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice relating to The Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2013, Sixty Sixth report, Presented to the Rajya Sabha on 17th December, 2013, [please click here to download the report]
 

$ The Use of Right to Information Laws in India-A Rapid Study Based on theAnnual Reports of Information Commissions (2011-12) prepared by Venkatesh Nayak, Amrita Paul, Seema Choudhary and Maja Daruwala, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI, www.humanrightsinitiative.org) (please click here to download)

* Final Report of the Vision Foundation (2005), Planning Commission, Government of India
 


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