New Delhi: With India marking its 14th year of making public its Central and state government dealings under the Right to Information Act, Union home minister Amit Shah on Saturday said the Centre was pulling out all stops to ensure that people had little reason to complain against officials.
However, even as Shah – two months after Parliament gave more teeth to the RTI Act – stated that the Act led to greater accountability, employing more than five lakh officials, statistics revealed that there were gaps in the Act which had yet to be plugged in.
According to a report by Transparency International India, only 24 out of 155 posts of Information Commissioner both at the Central and state level are vacant, whereas as in 2018, 48 out 156 posts had been reported vacant. At the same time, there are “only seven women Information Commissioners in India which is approximately 4.5% of total sanctioned post," the report states.
While Shah, on Saturday, also stated that the Centre was trying to maintain transparency in its matters, according to the report, “15, 578 cases in penalty imposed on public authorities by State Information Commissions (excluding Union Government) during 2005-06 to 2018-19" – a factor that the home minister added the public would not have to resort to with the Centre increasing accountability amongst its ranks.
However, the report also highlights that only five Information Commissions maintain data on cases of threats and harasments, whereas 24 of the commissions (excluding Jammu and Kashmir) do not maintain the very data on the same.
Likewise, while more than 3.02 crore RTI applications — which amounts to just 2.25% of citizens — had been filed, the CIC has received 78.93 lakh applications. The states that received maximum applications were Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala. West Bengal received less than one lakh applications.