RTI queries grow exponentially in Karnataka, so does pendency

RTI queries grow exponentially in Karnataka, so does pendency

RTI queries grow exponentially in Karnataka, so does pendency

Call it an increased awareness or a failure to follow the law in letter and spirit, the number of applications seeking information under the Right To Information Act has increased exponentially in the last decade.

From just 10,692 applications in the year 2005-06 when the Act come into effect, the number is likely to be over 7 lakh in 2015-16 in the State, according to L Krishnamurthy, in charge Karnataka Chief Information Commissioner. The annual figures for the current fiscal ending March 31 are yet to be compiled by the RTI Commission.

Revenue and Rural Development and Panchayat Raj departments always get the highest number of applications seeking information under the RTI Act.

At the same time, the number of appeals before the RTI commissioners have also increased, primarily because failure of the Public Information Officers (PIOs) to provide the information sought by citizens and lack of commitment in hearing and disposing of the cases by first appellate authority appointed in the departments.

In the first year, the second appeals before the Commission was just 207 while the pending applications before the commission this fiscal is a little over 32,000 and counting. On an average, the Commission receives at least 1,500 appeals every month. That is 50 a day.

In one such case, a BBMP PIO has refused to give information on a proposal to regularise oversized billboards by former additional commissioner N V Prasad. “The officer is asking me to go for an appeal,’’ says Sai Datta who had sought an information on the file two months ago. Datta has filed a case before the Lokayukta seeking a probe into alleged irregularities in advertisement wing based on which an inquiry has been instituted.

Expressing concern over lower rung officials’ apathy in providing information sought by citizens, Krishnamurthy, in a letter to Chief secretary Arvind Jadhav in January explained the need to ensure effective implementation of the RTI Act by strictly following the rules.

In the letter, Krishnamurthy pointed out how the first appellate officials have failed to dispose the cases. “If they do proper hearing  and issue appropriate orders nearly 50% of the appeals filed before the Commission will be reduced,’’ he says.

Krishnamurthy says approximately 36,000 appeals were pending before the Commission in 2015-16. In reality, not all details are uploaded or displayed as prescribed by Section 4(1)(b) of the RTI Act, the RTI Commissioner said in his letter.

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