Bogged down with pendency, KIC faces herculean task

HC has directed the panel to dispose of cases in 45 days of filing

Bogged down with pendency, KIC faces herculean task

The Karnataka Information Commission (KIC), which is already bogged down with heavy pendency, would find it tough to implement the High Court order which mandated the Information Commissions to dispose of cases within 45 days of filing the second appeal.

In a recent order, the High Court addressed the major lacunae in the RTI Act-2005 by setting a deadline for the Information Commission to dispose of the cases within 45 days of allotment of case number to the applications pertaining to the second appeal and the complaints.

The current state of affairs in the KIC are not encouraging enough to implement the High Court order.

According to the information available, there are 28,375 cases pending as on Dec 18, 2015. Of which 15,000 cases are pending for more than 45 days and in view of High Court order, these cases must be heard and disposed of as early as possible.

The Commission will sink into further trouble if the RTI applicants, whose cases are pending for more than 45 days, initiate contempt proceedings. There are many such pending applications which have not been taken up for hearing.

At present, there are only four Information Commissioners, including the Chief Information Commissioner, against the sanctioned posts of seven. Ironically, there is no chief information commissioner ever since A K M Nayak retired about two months ago. Presently T Rama Naik is serving as the acting Chief Information Commissioner, who along with Dr Shekar Sajjanar, is retiring this month end. If the vacancies are not filled up by January, the Commission will be left with only two Information Commissioners – L Krishna Murthy and Shankar R Patil.

Due to the shortage of commissioners, the average disposal rate at present is 70 cases a month, which may reduce to only 35 to 40 cases a month if the vacancies are not filled. On an average 3,000 fresh cases, appeals and complaints come up before the Commission.

A KIC official on the condition of anonymity, told Deccan Herald, “At the current rate of 70 cases per day, we can take up about 1,850 cases. This will reduce to half after the retirement of two more Information Commissioners.”

The Commission has reportedly written to the government for filling the vacancies.  Department of Personnel and Administrative Reforms (DPAR) has initiated the process by inviting applications from the eligible persons. It is learnt, the DPAR has received about 800 applications. The scrutiny of the applications are underway.

Most of the backlog is mainly because of  RTI applicants, who are running a racket. Not only are they pestering the PIOs in their respective districts, in various departments, by filing a flurry of RTI applications, they are also filing second appeal and complaints to the Commission when denied information.

There is another instance of two RTI applicants who threatened an Information Commissioner in the court hall and used abusive language. They were arrested after the Commissioner lodged a complaint with the police. Once out on bail, the duo flooded the Information Commission with RTI applications, seeking personal details of each and every staff working in the Commission.

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