Over 30 per cent of posts of Chief Information Commissioners and Information Commissioners are lying vacant across the country, according to a study released Thursday by the NGO Transparency International India.
It said more than 2.5 crore RTI applications were received by all public authorities -- central and state government departments under the ambit of the Right to Information (RTI) Act -- during 2005 and 2016, it said.
"Out of the 156 posts of Chief Information Commissioners and Information Commissioners at the Union/State level, around 48 posts are vacant, i.e. 30.8 per cent vacant posts in Central Information Commission and State Information Commissions," the study said.
There has been no appointment of State Chief Information Commissioners (as on October 10, 2018) for Andhra Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, and Nagaland, it said.
There are vacancies of Information Commissioners in Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Manipur, Meghalaya, Sikkim and Tripura, among others, the study said.
During the years 2005-2016, more than 2.525 crore RTI applications were received by all public authorities as maintained by the Central Information Commission and State Information Commissions, said the study which was released on the eve of the RTI Day.
A penalty of about Rs 1.93 crore was also imposed by the Central Information Commission during the years 2005-2016 on various public authorities and official concerned, it said.
The RTI Act empowers citizens to seek time-bound reply from government departments on governance related matters.
Recently, on the occasion to mark the International Right to Know Day (September 28, 2018), the Halifax-based Centre for Law and Democracy (Canada) and Access Info Europe (Spain) published the rank for 123 countries on RTI Implementation.
"India ranks 6th with a score of 128 and has dropped down the list by two places. Its failure to top this ranking is demonstrative that global standards of the right to access have advanced considerably since India's law was first passed," the Transparency International India said.
Giving details of RTI's implementation at the Union level, the NGO said about 66.6 lakh RTI applications were received and out of these 4.8 lakh were rejected.
"The implementation of the Act has been limited in its extent because of the existence of a fundamental problem with the mindset of the persons sitting in the power.
"The diverging objectives of the persons in power and as envisaged by the Act, has proven to be the biggest hurdle in the successful implementation of the Act," said Rama Nath Jha, Executive Director, Transparency International India.
He said structural and procedural difficulties have also proven to be one of the major hindrances in the popularising RTI Act as a tool of the masses.
"Information delayed is information denied! Pendency in Central Information Commission and State Information Commissions, acts counter to the objective of the Act," the study has pointed out.
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