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Information Commission Under RTI Act, 2005 : An Appraisal

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Right to Information Act (RTI) a powerful law enacted in year 2005 for better governance in the country. RTI law is backed by Article 19(1) (a) of the Constitution of India which talks about freedom of speech and expression. For proper usage of this right one should have proper information about the Public Authority. Public Authority carries wider meaning than only government. There are two objectives of RTI Act, 2005, one is to bring transparency and accountability in governance and other one is to setting up of Central Information Commission (CIC) and State Information Commission (SIC) to hear appeals and complaints. There are lot of peculiarities in working of CIC and various SICs. Some state commissions are performing exceptionally well whereas some are lagging behind. Most of the state information commission offices are facing challenges in terms of vacancies which ultimately leading to backlog of appeals and complaints. Second biggest challenge is appointment of efficient Information Commissioners who can dispose cases in effective way and in timely manner. There are Information Commissioners who have given landmarks orders and disposed off large number of cases. Thus we can see the role of information commissioner is crucial for successful implementation of RTI Act, 2005.
Present paper will critically analyze working of Information Commission at central and state level alongwith some important orders delivered by CIC and SIC.




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Information Commission Under RTI Act, 2005 : An Appraisal

  1. 1. Ph. D. Scholar GNLUPh. D. Scholar GNLU KALPESHKUMAR L GUPTAKALPESHKUMAR L GUPTA UGC Sponsored National Seminar on Evaluating the Six and Half Decades of the Constitution of 1
  2. 2. (C) K L GUPTA(C) K L GUPTA 2 Information Commissions have become the biggest threat to the transparency movement. Shri Shailesh Gandhi Former Central Information Commissioner, New Delhi
  3. 3. (C) K L GUPTA(C) K L GUPTA Outline of the presentation 1.Introduction 2.Legal Provisions 3.Some Leading Orders 4.Recent Scenario 5.Conclusion & Recommendations 6.Q & A 3
  4. 4. (C) K L GUPTA(C) K L GUPTA Outline of the presentation 1.Introduction 2.Legal Provisions 3.Some Leading Orders 4.Recent Scenario 5.Conclusion & Recommendations 6.Q & A 4
  5. 5. (C) K L GUPTA(C) K L GUPTA 5 Introduction - Right to Information is enshrined under Article 19(1)(a) of Constitution of India - RTI Act, 2005 passed on June 15, 2015 and came into force October 12, 2005 - Objectives are - to bring the transparency and accountability in the governance and - setting up of Central Information Commission & State Information Commission - 1.75 crore RTI applications filed since 2005 : Study* - 4800 applications are filled everyday * * http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/1-75-crore-rti-applications-filed-since- 2005-study/articleshow/54705694.cms
  6. 6. (C) K L GUPTA(C) K L GUPTA 6 Application Section 6 1st Appeal Section 19 2nd Appeal Section 19 Complaint (Section 18)
  7. 7. (C) K L GUPTA(C) K L GUPTA Outline of the presentation 1.Introduction 2.Legal Provisions 3.Some Leading Orders 4.Recent Scenario 5.Conclusion & Recommendations 6.Q & A 7
  8. 8. (C) K L GUPTA(C) K L GUPTA 8 Legal Provisions - Central Govt. constituted the Central Information Commission under Section 12 - State Govt. constituted the State Information Commission under Section 15 - There will be one Chief Information Commissioner and other Information Commissioners not exceeding 10. - Term is for 5 years - Not eligible for reappointment
  9. 9. (C) K L GUPTA(C) K L GUPTA 9 Section 12 Section 15
  10. 10. (C) K L GUPTA(C) K L GUPTA Outline of the presentation 1.Introduction 2.Legal Provisions 3.Some Leading Orders 4.Recent Scenario 5.Conclusion & Recommendations 6.Q & A 10
  11. 11. (C) K L GUPTA(C) K L GUPTA 11 Some Leading Orders - CBSE & Ors v/s. Aditya Bandopadhyay (SC 2011) - Answer Sheet case - Secretary General, SC of India v/s. Subhash Chandra Agrawal, Delhi HC, 2010) - Judges Asset Case - Subhash Chandra Aggarwal & Anil Bairwal v/s. INC, BJP,CPM, CPI, NCP, BSP, Central Information Commission, 2013 - Political Parties - BCCI - Not Public Authority as per CIC Decision 2011 - Justice Lodha Committee submitted report to SC for taking control of BCCI. - O P Gandhi v/s. Tihar Jail (CIC, September 27, 2016) - Tihar Jail Compensation case
  12. 12. (C) K L GUPTA(C) K L GUPTA 12 Some Leading Orders There are various other orders in which information commission decided matters on following issues.  Whether an organization is a public authority or not?  Whether matter is in public interest or not?  Striking the balance between private information and public information  Whether information is held under fiduciary relationship or not?  And finally matter relating to non reply of application, aggrieved from reply etc.
  13. 13. (C) K L GUPTA(C) K L GUPTA Outline of the presentation 1.Introduction 2.Legal Provisions 3.Some Leading Orders 4.Recent Scenario 5.Conclusion & Recommendations 6.Q & A 13
  14. 14. (C) K L GUPTA(C) K L GUPTA 14 Recent Scenario - Vacancies - Backlog of cases - Penalty - Compensation - RTI Monitoring & Reporting - Efficiency of Information Commission
  15. 15. (C) K L GUPTA(C) K L GUPTA 15 Source :- Times of India, October 10, 2014
  16. 16. (C) K L GUPTA(C) K L GUPTA 16
  17. 17. (C) K L GUPTA(C) K L GUPTA 17 “Government agencies are trying to avoid true information one way or another, they are misinterpreting the questions knowingly and very skilfully and sometimes state information commission is also favouring and protecting them as head of organization and commissioners are IAS officers” Yash Dave
  18. 18. (C) K L GUPTA(C) K L GUPTA 18 “As far Gujarat is concerned, I have no words to criticize or blame. Here, commissioners are agents of government and are reluctant to impose penalty enough and to direct the govt. to initiate inquiries against defaulting PIOs. Please keep category in bad survey” Natvarlal Acharya
  19. 19. (C) K L GUPTA(C) K L GUPTA 19 “Number of appeals rotting in Karnataka State Information Commission. The useless Information Commissioner sitting there are not interested in disposing of any of the cases filed and I do not know why they are there and what for the Government is paying them” Hanglur Srinivas Varma
  20. 20. (C) K L GUPTA(C) K L GUPTA Outline of the presentation 1.Introduction 2.Legal Provisions 3.Some Leading Orders 4.Recent Scenario 5.Conclusion & Recommendations 6.Q & A 20
  21. 21. (C) K L GUPTA(C) K L GUPTA 21 Conclusion - Performance of Information Commissions is not encouraging. - Thousands are appeals/complaints are pending across the India - In the recent global RTI ranking India slipped to 4th rank. Earlier it was at 2nd Rank
  22. 22. (C) K L GUPTA(C) K L GUPTA 22 Conclusion Ranking Country 1 Mexico 2 Serbia 3 Slovenia 4 India 5 Croatia 6 Liberia 7 El Salvador 8 Sierra Leone 9 Sri Lanka 10 Tunisia http://www.rti-rating.org/ 2016 Rankings
  23. 23. (C) K L GUPTA(C) K L GUPTA 23 Recommendations - RTI application/appeal format standardization - Various payment option for RTI application fees - Benches of commissions to be established as per need - Video conferencing facility to be installed in the office of Information Commissions - Vacancies to be filled up - Proper training to PIO/Appellate Authority so that they can handle the case effectively - Robust centralised online application/appeal mechanism to be set up - Helpline centre for RTI application/appeal - SMS alert for case hearing - Intensive campaign for RTI awareness as per Section 26
  24. 24. (C) K L GUPTA(C) K L GUPTA 24 Click on State RTI Portal Click on District Click on PA/FC Online RTI Application Flow
  25. 25. (C) K L GUPTA(C) K L GUPTA 25 Information Commissioners in his individual capacity Recommendations Ratnakar Gaikwad Maharashtra State Chief Information Commissioner March 2014 heard 759 appeals Shailesh Gandhi Former Central Information Commissioner Prof M Sridhar Central Information Commissioner Paperless office In 97% cases on the spot decision Remarkable/Quality Orders Timely Case Disposal
  26. 26. (C) K L GUPTA(C) K L GUPTA Outline of the presentation 1.Introduction 2.Legal Provisions 3.Some Leading Orders 4.Recent Scenario 5.Conclusion & Recommendations 6.Q & A 26
  27. 27. (C) K L GUPTA(C) K L GUPTA 27 Any question ?
  28. 28. (C) K L GUPTA(C) K L GUPTA http://indianexpress.com/article/politics/cic-congress-rti-political-parties-donations-2865089/, PTI, New Delhi, June 20, 2016 “CIC may have its head soon”, The Hindu, New Delhi May 10, 2015 retrieved from http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/cic-may-have-its-head-soon/article7190317.ece Dhawan Himanshi (2014), “RTI backlog burden: Waiting period 60 years in MP, 17 in West Bengal”, The Times of India, TNN, October 10, 2014, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/RTI-backlog- burden-Waiting-period-60-years-in-MP-17-in-West-Bengal/articleshow/44766766.cms Mehta Manthan, “ CIC fines babus in less than 1% cases”, The Times of India, October 15, 2011 retrieved from http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/CIC-fines-babus-in-less-than-1- cases/articleshow/10359854.cms on October 5, 2016 http://www.humanrightsinitiative.org/blog/trends-from-the-cics-annual-report-for-201415-rti- applications-decline-cic-imposes-fewer-penalties retrieved from October 5, 2016 Retrieved from http://www.livelaw.in/public-authoritiesstate-must-compensate-victims-extra- detention-violates-right-life-cic/ on October 9, 2016 Biswas Partha Sarathi (2016), “Defying RTI, 25 public authorities fail to submit annual returns to Maharashtra SIC”, The Indian Express, October 17, 2016 retrieved from http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/defying-rti-25-public-authorities-fail-to- submit-annual-returns-to-maharashtra-sic-3086561/ on October 17, 2016 Pallavi (2012), “Selection of RTI Commissioners flawed, arbitrary: Shailesh Gandhi” retrieved from http://www.firstpost.com/india/selection-of-rti-commissioners-flawed-arbitrary-shailesh-gandhi- 367915.html --- (2015) “Transparency In Appointments Of Commissioners Is Answer To RTI Woes” retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.in/shailesh-gandhi-/transparency-in-appointme_b_8283448.html on October 13, 2016 References :- 28
  29. 29. (C) K L GUPTA(C) K L GUPTA Yadav Shyamlal (2015). “You can’t use RTI to light up every corner: Chief Information Commissioner Vijai Sharma”, The Indian Express, December 22, 2015 retrieved from http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/you-cant-use-rti-to-light-up- every-corner-chief-information-commissioner-vijai-sharma/ on October 10, 2016 Office Memorandum No. 1/1/2013-IR, Dated April 22, 2013 available at http://ccis.nic.in/WriteReadData/CircularPortal/D2/D02rti/1_1_2013-IR-D.pdf accessed on December 17, 2013 Making the Right to Information a Reality , https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PDv77HMA7Og retrieved from October 5, 2016 Shukla Ashutosh (2014), “Maharashtra Information Chief Ratnakar Gaikawad hears 759 appeals in March, a record for one month”, DNA, April 30, 2014 retrieved from http://www.dnaindia.com/mumbai/report-maharashtra-information-chief-ratnakar-gaikwad-hears- 759-appeals-in-march-a-record-for-one-month-1983486 on October 4, 2016 References :- 29
  30. 30. Kalpeshkumar L Gupta advocatekgupta@gmail.com www.klgupta.in 30

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