People’s RTI Assessment
2008: Preliminary Results
Right to Information Assessment and Analysis Group
National Campaign for People’s Right to Information
In Collaboration with:
Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai; Centre for the Study of Developing
Societies (CSDS), Delhi; Association for Democratic Reforms, Bangalore; North
Eastern Network, Guwahati; ASHA, Varanasi; JANPATH, Ahmedabad; United Forum
for RTI Campaign, Hyderabad; Meghalaya RTI Movement, Shillong; Centre of Action
Research and Documentation (CARD) Bhubaneshwar; School for Democracy, Jaipur
Primary Data Collection
Rural and Urban Surveys
Survey has been completed in 9 states covering 216 villages
and 108 municipal wards in 27 districts. Analysis has been
carried out for 18 districts, for which data entry has been
completed. The team has surveyed
15 Second Appellants
426 Public Information Officers
They also inspected
548 Public Authority Premises
466 Public Authority Records
Facilitated/Filed 77 RTI’s in various PAs
Held 324 FGDs in the villages and wards
Applicants and Appellants
117 applicants were interviewed in 144 villages.
2/3 received a response to their application. Of those
who received the response, nearly 2/3 got some
information and nearly1/2 got full information.
90% of applicants were found to be males
1/3 of applicants had only school education, to various
levels. One was illiterate
About 20% applicants were STs and 30% were OBCs
About 20% applicants had BPL or antyodaya ration
•Of the possible 165 PIOs in each state, an average of 1/3 were
actually available. Best availability was in Karnataka, followed by
Rajasthan. The worst was in Uttar Pradesh
•1/3 of the PIOs available did not know they were PIOs
•1/4 of the PIOs responding did not want to be PIOs
•2/3 of the willing PIOs wanted to be PIOs to “Support RTI”
•Unwilling PIOs cited heavy work load as a major reason. But
more than 70% spend less than 2 hours/week on RTI related work
Constrains faced by the PIO
More than 40% of PIOs responding do not
have a copy of the ACT.
33% PIOs cited lack of training, lack of
manuals and materials, and unfamiliarity
with the law as their main problem.
Only around 40% of the PIOs responding
had received some sort of RTI training
A total of 548 PA premises were inspected for
signages like display boards with names of PIO,
room number, fees information and also
language, readability etc
Of this 50% PA premises did not have any
signboards at all.
PA record inspection
Records were inspected in 466 PAs.
40% PIOs were not willing to get their
Non availability or destruction of record
were cited as main reasons for not
Nearly 60% of the PIOs responding
confirmed RTI-induced change:
improvement in departmental record-
A total of 324
Participants in 2/3
FGDs stated that
help in solving
What happens after you file
Speed, Ease, Efficiency!
Experiences with Urban Public
Filed RTI applications within the sample: 190
18 RTI applications transferred to 115 divisions
Total responses under consideration:
Filed RTIs under consideration cover 7 sample
states (states and district PAs) + 1 State HQ +10
PAs in the Central Government
Nature of the Applications Filed
2 Key questions
Application History in the PA
No. of applications received since 2005
Nature of response: # case where full
information was provided, partial information
provided or rejected
Copies of applicant and appeal Registers
Copies of applications, appeals, and
High Response Rate
Three Fourths of the RTI applicants filed received
But Timely Responses are Rare
1/3rd Responses Received within 30 Days
50:50 chance of getting information
Information furnished in 3/4th of the responses
received and ½ of total applications filed
Very few rejections
Many difficulties in payments for RTI
Delhi police requested payments for much
more than mere photocopying!
Meghalaya: Over 2/3rds of the PAs responded
with complete information either directly or after
requests for money for photocopying
Meghalaya also amongst quickest in responding
to RTI applications
AP: less than 1/3rd PAs furnished complete
Speed of Responses
Railways- Highest number of responses within
30 days at 90%
MOEF- A close second. 74% were responded
to within 30 days
Responses within 30 days- Revenue at 29%,
Women and Child at 24%, Police and home at
14% & 20% respectively
Revenue Dept: 67%
Women and Child: 41%
MoEF and Railways: Top the list. nearly
2/3rds-furnished information either directly
or after making requests for money for
Revenue Department worst performer.
Less than 1/5th PIOs furnished information
Section 8 (j) and section 11, section 7(9):
most commonly cited reason for rejection
Across PA’s and states max. rejections
came from the police department.
Majority of the rejections drew on section
PUBLIC AUTHORITY WEBSITES
Website Survey of Section 4
Assessment of Section 4 compliance by all 240 sample
urban PAs (plus 5 Delhi Govt PAs)
Key research questions:
Are they electronically reporting all required 17 Section 4 items?
Is this reporting comprehensive and timely?
Are these websites easy to find and to use?
Methodology – each website evaluated for all 17 Section 4 items;
information also sought on State and Central RTI portal, SIC and
Status – Half of total sample completed; preliminary
Key outputs – compliance index; website usability index
RTI and the Media
Analysis of media coverage, promotion, and use of RTI
in 10 sample states and at centre
Key research questions:
−RTI coverage – cross-publication, cross-state, cross-language
− Promotion and public awareness efforts
− Cross-publication/editor/journo differences in tone/attitude to RTI
− Use of RTI for investigative journalism; systemic results?
− Adoption of spirit of RTI
Methodology: Clipping collection, labelling, analysis; interviews
Status: Survey ongoing in 7 sample/ 4 non-sample states; preliminary
analysis received for most. Now commissioning in Assam, Andhra
RTI and International Donors
Public disclosure policies of international donors in India
being vetted for citizen focus and RTI best practice
Other research questions:
Is RTI impacting international donor disclosure policies in India/
How are international donors helping strengthen the RTI regime?
9 largest multilateral/ bilateral donors as per MinFinance listing
2 largest private charitable foundations, as per
Methodology: Desk research; interviews; info requests
Status – Desk research complete; rest starts mid-Oct
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT WAYS IN
WHICH RTI IS USED?
WHO USES IT?
AND WHAT ARE THE OUTCOMES?
RTI Rules of High Courts and
Act applicable to all 21 High Courts barring
the High Court of Jammu & Kashmir.
4 High Courts have not yet framed rules to
implement the RTI Act.
Analysis of the rules framed by the High
Courts structured under 3 broad
1. Violation of law
2. Going beyond the purview of the law
Violation of law:
Denial of information - High Courts of Karnataka,
Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Gujarat, Punjab & Haryana have
provisions that seek to exempt info. from the public over
& above the exemptions specified in the law.
Penalty – High Court rules for Delhi, Kolkatta, Gujarat
specify a much lower quantum of penalty & one that is
impossible by the first appellate authority.
Going beyond the purview of
High Courts of Patna, Punjab & Haryana,
Gujarat, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh have framed
rules that any application for info that is either
outside the jurisdiction of the PIO or the
contents of which can be obtained under High
Court rules or other General rules operational in
a High Court shall be rejected.
Quantum of fees -
- Exorbitant fees imposed by many High Courts.
- Some prescribed appeal fees.
- RTI Act does not have any provisions of ‘prior payment’
& therefore it goes beyond the purview of the RTI Act.
Mode of Payment –
Different modes of payment for different places causes a problem.
Eg: In whose favour should the cheque/ DD/ IPO be made?
“ When the custodian of power is
influenced in its exercise by considerations
outside those for promotion of which the
power is vested the court calls it a
colorable exercise and it is undeceived by