Shailesh Gandhi slams Centre for 'weakening' RTI Act - Alternative Media Forum


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Monday, 11 May 2015

Shailesh Gandhi slams Centre for 'weakening' RTI Act

New Delhi(dna): As the hearing on the appointment of the chief and three central information commissioners (CIC) got deferred on Monday in Delhi high court, the issue of functioning of the CIC in general received severe criticism.

The government was lambasted by activists for all sections – ranging from the performance of the information commissioners to their appointments and even selection process.

Shailesh Gandhi, former central information commissioner, said: "Besides the appointment, there is little that the commissioners are doing." His complaint stems from the ever increasing number of pending second appeals and slow paced clearances.

The pending second appeals have jumped by over 100% from last year. "Commissioners are slowly working less and less. In the central information commission, six commissioners had disposed 22,351 cases in 2011, whereas in 2014, seven commissioners disposed only 16,006 cases," Gandhi informed.

A specific number of cases that should be disposed off by each commissioner too is not adhered by the CIC. Commissioners at the Centre in turn say that the low number of commissioners is the reason. "The present prime minister has taken preemptive action by not appointing a chief information commissioner at all," added Gandhi, in a statement released to media.

The appointment is now being monitored by the high court after PILs were filed. "The seriousness of the government is clear from the fact that in an RTI reply, the public information officer states that he does not have details on selection process, while the same person is representing the government in court as one who knows the subject," said Lokesh Batra, one of the petitioners.

Batra and a few others have also raised questions on the selection process, and it becoming a parking place for bureaucrats.

Gandhi urged citizens to 'wake from their slumber', adding: "It is evident that at this languorous pace of working, RTI will slowly become like the Consumer Act – mainly in existence for the commissioners. Citizens must focus on getting commissioners who will dispose over 6,000 cases annually, and give clear signals that they will not tolerate tardiness from public information officers or commissioners."

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