Times of India: New Delhi: Saturday, March 18, 2017.
Indians filed an astonishing 9.76 lakh applications under the Right to Information Act in 2015-2016, an increase of over 20% as compared to the previous year's numbers.
However, four out of every 10 RTI pleas were rejected on mysterious grounds, according to the central information commission's annual report made public on Friday.
The number of applications filed in 2014-2015 were 7.55 lakh, which rose by 22.67% or 2.21 lakh in 2015-2016. Unfortunately the number of RTI pleas rejected continue to be high as well. Public authorities rejected 6.62% of the they applications received. While this is lower than last year's figure of 8.39% applications rejected in 2014-2015, the number remains high.
According to an analysis by CHRI's Venkatesh Nayak, the highest proportion of RTI applications was rejected not under the permissible exemptions under the RTI Act such as national security, fiduciary relationship, Cabinet papers while a decision is still to be taken but under the mysterious category of "others".
At 43% rejections recorded under this category, more than four out of every 10 RTI applications rejected were for reasons other than those permitted by the RTI Act. About 47% of RTI pleas rejected under various clauses in section eight of the RTI act (against national interest and others), about 1% were rejected under Section 9 (private copyright) and 7% of the RTI were rejected by the 26 security and intelligence organisations partially excluded under act except in cases of corruption and life or death.
In 2014-15, almost a quarter of the registered public authorities failed to submit data related to RTI applications they received.
Compliance was considerably higher with 94% of the 1,903 public authorities submitting data in 2015-2016.
The CIC disposed of 28,188 appeal and complaints cases in 2015-16 while 25,960 cases were registered during the same period. Pendency of second appeals and complaints on April 1, 2016, was at 34,982 cases. The Commission reported that the amount of fees and penalties reported by public authorities had increased by 12.31% in 2015-16. It had imposed penalties to the tune of Rs 10.52 lakh out of which Rs 9.41 lakh was paid up by the public information officers. Penalties worth Rs. 1.25 lakh imposed in various cases have been stayed by various high courts.