At 15, RTI Act crippled by rising backlog

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News: A report card has been brought out by the Satark Nagrik Sangathan and the Centre for Equity Studies to mark the 15th anniversary of the Right to Information(RTI) Act coming into force.

Facts:

Key Facts from the report:

  • Pending Cases: More than 2.2 lakh cases are pending at Central and State Information Commissions which are the final courts of appeal under the RTI Act.
  • Highest Pending Appeals: Maharashtra had the highest number of pending appeals followed by Uttar Pradesh and the Central Information Commission(CIC).
  • Vacancies: Nine out of 29 information commissions are functioning without a chief information commissioner.Even the CIC is functioning without chief information commissioner and only 5 commissioners.
    • Under the law, every commission should have a chief and up to 10 commissioners.
  • Penalties: The government officials face hardly any punishment for violating the law.Only 2.2% of cases that were disposed of faced penalties despite previous analysis showing about 59% violations which should have triggered the process of penalty imposition.

Additional Facts:

  • Right to Information Act, 2005: It provides for timely disclosure of information by citizens from both central and State Public Authorities.It seeks to empower citizens and promote accountability and transparency.
    • Under the act, Public Authorities are required to make disclosures on various aspects such as a) disclosure on their organisation, functions and structure b) powers and duties of its officers and employees and c) financial information.