CIC Annual Report on “RTI Applications”

What is the News?

The Central Information Commission(CIC) released its annual report. The report provides the data on the number of RTI applications received and rejected by public authorities.

About CIC Annual Report:
  • The CIC annual report provides the data on the number of RTI applications received and rejected by public authorities.
  • It covers more than 2,000 public authorities across the Central government as well as the union territories.
What are the key findings of the report?
  • RTI Applications: Public Authorities under the Central Government have received 13.74 lakh RTI applications in 2019-20. This is a nominal increase of 0.3% from 2018-19.
  • RTI Applications Rejected: The Centre has only rejected 4.3% of all Right to Information(RTI) requests in 2019-20, the lowest ever rate.
    • However, almost 40% of the RTI rejections did not include any valid reason. It is despite the fact that these applications were not qualifying under exemptions clauses in the RTI Act.
    • Further, the report shows a category of “others” used by government departments to discard applications.
    • The CIC in the 2011-12 report suggested for “closer scrutiny and inspection” of “others” category as rejection ground. But no further action took place.
  • RTI Rejections Ministry wise:
    • Firstly, the Home Ministry had the highest rate of RTI rejections. It rejected 20% of all RTIs received.
    • Secondly, the Agriculture Ministry’s rejection rate doubled from 2% in 2018-19 to 4% in 2019-20.
    • Thirdly, the Finance Ministry also rejected more than 10,000 cases. It didn’t provide a valid reason under the Act.
Right to Information Act, 2005 and exemptions:
  • RTI Act provides for timely disclosure of information by citizens from both central and State Public Authorities. It seeks to empower citizens and promote accountability and transparency.
  • Under the Act, public authorities are required to make disclosures on various aspects of their structure and functioning. This includes
    • disclosure on their organization
    • functions and structure
    • powers and duties of its officers and employees and
    • Financial information.
  • Public Authorities: Public authority means any authority or body or institution of self-government established or constituted under or by
    • the Constitution;
    • Any other law made by Parliament/State Legislature.
    • Notification issued or order made by the appropriate Government, and includes any—
    • Body owned, controlled, or substantially financed;
    • Non-Government organisations substantially financed, directly or indirectly by funds provided by the appropriate Government.
  • Exceptions: The RTI Act allows public authorities to reject RTI requests on a number of grounds.
    • The information which would endanger life and safety to that which involves irrelevant personal information,
    • Cabinet papers,
    • foreign governments
    • copyrights, or sovereignty
    • security and intelligence matters among others.

Source: The Hindu

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