RTIs pending with Cooperation Ministry since 2021, say activists

The Union Ministry of Cooperation, set up in July 2021, is responsible for multi-State cooperative societies

September 05, 2022 07:15 pm | Updated 07:15 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Union Minister for Home Affairs and Cooperation Amit Shah at the newly inaugurated office of the Ministry of Cooperation, at Atal Akshay Urja Bhawan in New Delhi on July 14, 2022. File

Union Minister for Home Affairs and Cooperation Amit Shah at the newly inaugurated office of the Ministry of Cooperation, at Atal Akshay Urja Bhawan in New Delhi on July 14, 2022. File | Photo Credit: PTI

Right to Information (RTI) activists and lawyers, who have filed queries with the Union Ministry of Cooperation, say requests filed as far back as November 2021 have not been answered, with the same status being shown on the online portal — “RTI request received”.

The Ministry was set up via a gazette notification on July 6, 2021 and Home Minister Amit Shah was given the additional portfolio of Cooperation. A Delhi-based lawyer and RTI activist, Madan Mohan Priye, said he filed an RTI with the Ministry on November 17, 2021, which was given the serial number of one on the online filing portal. As of Monday, the portal still showed the status of the query as “RTI request received”, though the RTI Act provides for a reply within 30 days.

He said he had filed an application with the Department of Personnel and Training through the government’s grievance portal on August 23 about the delay and the Ministry had not designated a Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) and First Appellate Authority (FAA) to process the queries under the RTI. He then received the copy of an office order by the Cooperation Ministry appointing the CPIOs and FAAs on April 29 this year.

“Though the Ministry was set up in July 2021, the CPIOs and FAAs were appointed in April 2022. We have not received replies for queries filed months ago. The Ministry is responsible for multi-State cooperative societies that have huge amounts of the public’s money. Not replying to RTIs for so many months is anti-democratic,” he said.

Another RTI activist, Patna-based Praveen Chandra Roy, said his query filed in December 2021, as well as one filed in July this year, had not received replies, and both showed the same status of “RTI request received”. Mr. Roy said that before the Cooperation Ministry was created, the subject was under the Agriculture Ministry and responses were received for RTI queries on time.

“When the Cooperation Ministry was created, there was confusion as to who would answer RTIs on what subject, and the Agriculture Ministry was not transferring the applications. Other Ministries respond to RTIs, or if they don’t, there is the first appeal,” he said.

The Cooperation Ministry did not respond to requests for comment.

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