More than 3 crore Right to Information (RTI) applications have been filed so far, according to a report by Transparency International India.
According to the State Transparency Report released on the eve of RTI Day on Saturday (12 October), the total number of RTI applications as reported so far is 3.02 crore. The same number in last year's report was 2.43 crore.
The top five departments and states receiving maximum number of RTI applications are the Central Information Commission (78.93 lakh), Maharashtra (61.80 lakh), Tamil Nadu (26.91 lakh), Karnataka (22.78 lakh) and Kerala (21.92 lakh).
On the penalty imposed, the report said that in 15, 578 cases, penalty was imposed by State Information Commissions (excluding Central Information Commission) during 2005-06 to 2018-19. The highest penalty imposed in the last three years was Rs 81 lakh by the Uttarakhand State Information Commission and Rs 49 lakh imposed by the Rajasthan State Information Commission.
On the posts lying vacant, the report finds that currently, 24 out of 155 posts of Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners are vacant, whereas as per STR 2018, 48 out 156 posts were vacant. Seven state Information Commissions have one woman Information Commissioners each which is approximately 4.5 per cent of total sanctioned posts.
Chhattisgarh is the only state which has published the annual reports from the years 2005 to 2018 while, only 9 states out of the 28 states (excluding J&K, since it is a UT now) have published annual report up to year 2017-18. Publishing of annual report is mandatory as per RTI Act 2005.
"RTI legislation has been utilised to reorient public policy and it has facilitated the healthy working of democracy. It is a tool to make the governance system transparent & accountable and definitely not a weapon against the government," said Rama Nath Jha, Executive Director, Transparency International India.
"It is high time to stand united to fight and reinvent the network of pro-transparency civil society groups of country to intensify struggle for the Right to Information 2.0", he added.
The report notes that over the last 14 years, RTI has been empowering the people by enabling the demand of information from government authorities which has lifted the veil of secrecy from government functioning.
(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)
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