CIC not sticking to code, returns many second appeals

By Hemant Gairola
Pic Courtesy: Zohaib Mohammed

On what is a dampener for RTI users, analysis of activists shows that the Central Information Commission (CIC) has been declining requests for information at a high rate.

A recent news report published in "The Hindu" says as many as 12% of all second appeals that were forwarded to the CIC this year were returned to the applicants. Moreover, the reason for returning the second appeal was provided only in a small number of cases.

Appeals go to the CIC—which is based in Delhi—in two events: if an applicant is not satisfied with the response received from a government body under the RTI, and if his/her RTI request was not accepted or wrong information was given or he/she has received threats.

Three activists associated with Access to Information Programme of Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative analysed some data and found that the CIC received more than 71,000 second appeals between January to October this year, of which it returned 12% to the applicants. In August, it returned as many as one-fifth of all the second appeals.

According to the rules, if an applicant has furnished incomplete information or documents, the CIC should intimate them by post to furnish the missing info instead of disposing of the appeal. The CIC should maintain deficiency memos for such cases.

For the period of August, another group of researchers studied deficiency memos the CIC must create, or should have created. National Campaign for the People's Right to Information found that the CIC had created these memos only for one-fifth of the complaints it had returned to the sender.

These reports suggest that all is not well in the very body formed to uphold transparency and accountability of government institutions. If one is filing an application under the RTI, he/she should have realistic expectations and be prepared for underwhelming response too. Knowing what to do and where to go when faced with such glitches will help one sail over the trouble and get the desired result.

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