Over three lakh appeals and complaints pending with Information Commissions, report finds

The maximum number of pending appeals was in Maharashtra (1,15,524), followed by Karnataka (41,047); Tamil Nadu declined to provide the information

Published - October 11, 2023 11:21 pm IST - New Delhi

A total of 3,21,537 appeals and complaints are pending in 27 State Information Commissions across the country, a new report finds. File  

A total of 3,21,537 appeals and complaints are pending in 27 State Information Commissions across the country, a new report finds. File  

A total of 3,21,537 appeals and complaints are pending in 27 State Information Commissions across the country, and the backlog has been steadily increasing, according to a new report.

The maximum number of pending appeals was in Maharashtra (1,15,524), followed by Karnataka (41,047). Tamil Nadu declined to provide the information.

The ‘Report Card on the Performance of Information Commissions in India, 2022-23’ said that the 2019 assessment had found that as of March 31 that year, a total of 2,18,347 appeals/complaints were pending in the 26 Information Commissions from which data was obtained, which climbed to 2,86,325 as of June 30, 2021 and then crossed three lakh as of June 30, 2022.

Four Information Commissions — Jharkhand, Telangana, Mizoram and Tripura — are defunct as no new Information Commissioners were appointed upon incumbents demitting office. Six Information Commissions are currently headless — the Central Information Commission, and the State Information Commissions of Manipur, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Bihar, and Punjab.

The report has been compiled based on the performance of Information Commissions across the country, and on information accessed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act by the Satark Nagrik Sangathan (SNS), a citizens’ group working to promote transparency and accountability in governance.

October 12, 2023 marks 18 years of implementation of the RTI Act in India.

The report says that 2,20,382 appeals and complaints were registered between July 1, 2022 and June 30, 2023 by the 28 Information Commissions for whom relevant information was available. During the same time period, 2,14,698 cases were disposed of by 29 Information Commissions for which information could be obtained.

Using the average monthly disposal rate and the pendency in the commissions, the time it would take for an appeal or complaint to be disposed of was computed.

The assessment shows that West Bengal State Information Commission (SIC) would take an estimated 24 years and one month to dispose a matter, which suggests that a filing on July 1, 2023 would be disposed of in 2047 at the current monthly rate of disposal.

In Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra, the estimated time taken by SICs for disposing of an appeal or complaint is over four years. In Odisha and Arunachal Pradesh, it is over two years. The assessment shows that 10 Information Commissions will take one year or more to dispose of an appeal/complaint.

An analysis of penalties imposed by Information Commissions shows that the commissions did not impose penalties in 91% of the cases where they could have been imposed.

The RTI Act was passed in 2005. It empowers Indian citizens to seek information from a public authority, and makes the government and its functionaries more accountable and responsible. Under the RTI law, Information Commissions are the final appellate authority and are mandated to safeguard and facilitate the people’s fundamental right to information.

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