Karnataka the best in RTI Act implementation, finds study

Karnataka tops the country in implementing the RTI Act scoring 55 per cent in Overall Public Satisfaction (OPS), according to draft data compiled as part of Magsaysay Awardee Arvind Kejriwal-led NGO Parivartan’s initiative to give out the first-ever National RTI Awards to promote people’s right to access information from government organisations.
However, while the state tops the list, the fact that only 55 of every 100 people approaching the Karnataka Information Commission will finally get the information sought means that Karnataka, and more so the whole country, has a long way to go in making the RTI Act really successful.

Incidentally, Marxist-ruled West Bengal lies at the bottom of the heap, scoring just six per cent in OPS.

The worst

The most interesting finding of the analysis is that the Central Information Commission (CIC), the final arbiter of RTI Act related issues, and a few of its members are among the worst performers in more than one category, ranking a lowly 16th with only 19 per cent rating in OPS. CIC member M L Sharma is 59th in OPS with just nine per cent while his colleague S N Mishra is just one slot above him with 12 per cent.

The draft report on the functioning of Information Commissions across the country has also put Karnataka’s two information commissioners – K K Mishra and K A Thippeswamy – in joint second and third positions in OPS with 61 and 56 per cent scores along with Palat Mohandas of Kerala and P K Grover of Punjab respectively, while P Faziluddin of Kerala tops this list with a score of 67 per cent in providing information to people.

Incidentally, the national average of the possibility of getting information through an appeal with RTI Information Commissions is still a lowly 27 per cent.

The study, which will culminate in presenting the National RTI Awards, is the result of an analysis of orders passed in 51,128 cases by Information Commissioners and benches during 2008. However, the study does not include Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Sikkim.
“Despite repeated efforts, an RTI application, several phone calls and two visits to Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh did not provide copies of their orders saying that they do not have them. Tamil Nadu claims to have passed 40,402 orders during calendar year 2008 but provided us with copies of only 900 orders. Sikkim did not provide the list of addresses of all appellants,” Kejriwal says.

The data from the study has been analysed in four parameters of OPS, effectiveness, deterrent impact, and pro-disclosure factor, and in each of them, the top and bottom five commissions/commissioners have been identified.

According to the analysis, Karnataka and Kerala are at the top as far as the effectiveness of getting the orders of their information commissions are concerned, with a 60 per cent success rate.

Among successful information commissioners in this category, again Faziluddin of Kerala tops the list while Karnataka’s Mishra takes the third position.

Pro-disclosure factor

As far as pro-disclosure factor or the measure of who passed the maximum number of orders in favour of disclosures is concerned, Karnataka ranks fifth with a 91 per cent rating, following Assam (98 per cent),  Chhattisgarh (95) and Arunachal Pradesh  and Punjab (93 per cent each).

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