A large number of RTI activists have requested the State and Central Information Commissions to adopt the highest standards of transparency in keeping with the letter and spirit of the RTI Act and become model public authorities by making proactive disclosures and create a time-bound mechanism for disposal of appeals and complaints.
During a public hearing to mark the seventh anniversary of the RTI Act, activists discussed the problems they face when they seek information from public authorities. While most raised the issue of pendency of cases some also shared the threats they face while exposing corruption through the transparency law.
Talking about the functioning of the Central Information Commission, Anjali Bhardwaj of the National Campaign for People’s Right to Information (NCPRI) said when she filed an RTI in the CIC asking the number of cases it disposed of during the period of April 1, 2011, to April 1, 2012, she got three different numbers from three different sources, in several cases incomplete as well.
Emphasising the need for time-bound disposal of cases, Ms. Bhardwaj alleged that when she asked the CIC what happened to her complaint about asking the Municipal Corporation of Delhi to make “proactive disclosures” on its website on pensions and schools, the CIC told her after two years of sitting over her complaint that the file concerned had gone missing.
Activists also asked Information Commissions to adopt a system for uploading all the orders issued by them on their website.
Further they also felt the need for a single website linking and providing access to orders by all the Information Commissions. At the end of the public hearing, a resolution was also passed that no case should be disposed of until a penalty is levied and recovered.
“Information Commissioners must ensure that penalties imposed by them are recovered and are entered into the ACR/service record of the official concerned.”
Activist Aruna Roy said the legislation was one of the best implemented laws as there was strong monitoring of its implementation from the people’s side. But what was lacking was the Government response which she termed “comme ci comme ça” meaning “neither good nor bad”.