Delay continues in hearing of RTI cases at SICs

Many states report unfilled vacancies of commissioners after SC direction to hear cases by a two-member bench

jasleen

Jasleen Kaur | November 29, 2012



Delays in disposal of second appeals and complaints under the Right to Information Act are a known fact now. But many commissions do not even acknowledge the receipt of the appeal and keep one waiting. There are very few commissions who have an active website where one can look for the status of their case. But many are not internet savvy and there is no way for them to know about the status of their case.

“Some of my own cases are pending for more than 2 years in some commissions,” says Venkatesh Nayak, member of National Campaign for People’s Right to Information. Nayak adds, “A colleague of mine sought some information relating to prison administration and undertrial prisoners in jails in Rajasthan. The jail authorities refused to give the information. After exhausting the first appeal remedy my colleague approached the Rajasthan Information Commission (RIC).”

In this case the second appeal was filed in July 2012. The Rajasthan information commission processed the second appeal and the appellant has been informed that the first hearing in the matter will be held on September 13, 2013, more than year after filing of the second appeal.

Clearly the Rajasthan information commission is overburdened or perhaps it needs more commissioners to strengthen the norms of case disposal.
Sadly, governments are not paying attention to these issues and commissioners alone are also not able to build pressure on the government to take RTI seriously.

The supreme court's on September 12 (while heaing Namit Sharma's case) directed that all second appeals and complaints under the RTI Act will be heard by a bench of not less than two members. It said the bench will be presided over by an information commissioner who has a law background and judicial training. Many SICs, including that of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Haryana, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab and Rajasthan stopped functioning after the apex court order.

Many states reported unfilled information commissioner vacancies and some said it would take time to implement the changes ordered by the SC.

The Goa information commission is one of them which does not have any commissioner. So appeals and complaints are pilling up until the review petition in the Namit Sharma matter is decided. 

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