A diluted right

Conceived as a tool for citizens to access information speedily, RTI applications are now subject to appeals, counter-appeals and yet more appeals

A century ago, Lord Curzon made an interesting observation about officialdom in India when he said that “Round and round, like the diurnal revolution of the earth, went the file, stately, solemn, sure and slow..."

If there is one right that has become Curzonian in recent years—in spite of the best efforts of activists otherwise—it is the Right to Information (RTI).

Conceived as a tool for citizens to access information speedily, RTI applications are now subject to appeals, counter-appeals and yet more appeals. Data released in Parliament on Thursday shows the number of pending appeals before the Central Information Commission has increased every year for the past three years. The number of appeals this year—as on 1 January—stood at 35,880. The figure at the same time last year was 22,907.

These numbers can’t be explained by mere delays in the appointment of information commissioners but in the attitude of denial of the bureaucracy.

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