ICs risk redundancy with alarming numbers of pending cases
The Information Commissions (ICs) are saddled with at least 1.87 lakh pending cases.
The analysis by Research, Assessment and Analysis Group (RaaG) and Satark Nagrik Sangathan (SNS) showed that a comparison with the data in a 2014 report showed an alarming rise in pendency.
Pendency in the Assam State Information Commission went up by 240% while Odisha and Punjab saw a rise of more than 60%. Kerala saw cases stagnate by 49% while at the Central Information Commission the pendency was 43%.
The figure of 1.87 lakh may also increase as the data was for 16 Information Commissions as on December 31, 2015.
“The huge backlog in the disposal of appeals and complaints by the commissions is one of the most serious problems being faced by the transparency regime in India.
The high levels of pendency in ICs result in applicants having to wait for many months, even years, for their appeals and complaints to be heard,” it said.
If one goes by the disposal rate of appeals and complaints, a complaint filed in Assam in January 2016 would take 30 years to dispose, while it would take 11 years in West Bengal and seven years in Kerala.
In Karnataka, the pendency is such that it would take 20 months to dispose a case filed this January, while it was just 14 months in 2014.
In nine of the 16 Information Commissions for which data was available for 2016, the waiting time for a hearing was more than one year.
The report found that several ICs were non-functional or were functioning at reduced capacity as the posts of commissioners, including that of the chief information commissioner, were vacant during the period under review. Non-appointment of information commissioners was found to be the major reason for pendency.
“Even where there are adequate number of commissioners, often a reasonable number of cases are not disposed every month due to the tardy functioning of commissioners,” it said.