As many as 13,453 cases have been pending with the Central Information Commission for more than a year, the Centre said on Thursday. The commission deals with grievances related to requests filed under the Right to Information Act.
Union minister Jitendra Singh gave the number in a written response to a question asked in the Rajya Sabha by Trinamool Congress MP Shanta Chhetri. Chhetri had asked the Centre whether it was true if the CIC was not functioning effectively as a result of backlog of previous cases, and if applicants were not allocated dates of hearing for long periods of time.
The minister gave numbers of second appeals and complaints that were filed and disposed of in the last four years. In 2016-’17, the RTI appellate body registered 23,811 cases and disposed of 32,344 cases, which included cases that were filed in earlier years, Singh said. In 2017-’18, a further 25,815 cases were filed, while 29,005 cases were disposed of. The next year, 22,736 cases were registered and 17,188 were disposed of. In the 2019-’20 year so far, 14,523 cases were filed until November 20, and 11,117 were disposed of, Singh said.
On a question about the steps taken for the effective implementation of the Right to Information Act, Singh said the Department of Personnel and Training has provided funds to various state governments to establish helplines to facilitate the process of obtaining information.
Earlier this year, a petition filed in the Supreme Court had alleged that over 23,500 appeals and complaints were pending with the Central Information Commission due to vacancies. The Supreme Court had on November 6 asked the Centre and nine state governments to file a status report on filling vacancies in the central and state information commissions.
Activist Anjali Bhardwaj, who is part of Satark Nagrik Sangathan, had said a report released by the organisation in October revealed how governments across the country were trying to undermine the RTI Act. “In several commissions, despite large number of pending appeals and complaints, governments had failed to take steps to appoint information commissioners, thereby frustrating peoples right to know,” she said.