One RTI user has been killed every two months since 2005.

Right to Information or Reluctance to provide Information
news RTI Tuesday, October 27, 2015 - 15:32

The central government appears to be applying the Swacch Bharat broom to RTI applications that have been sent for appeal. At present, the Central Information Commission is rejecting over 90% of appeals.

According to a report in The Economic Times, the number of appeals  dropped from 2,633 in June to less than 5 percent of that figure in September – 119 on the Central Information Commission’s website.

This, after retired bureaucrat Vijai Sharma was appointed as the Chief Information Commissioner on June 8. The post was lying vacant for nine months after the NDA government assumed office.

Economic Times quotes RTI activist and former Chief Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi as saying, "A few instances of misuse of RTI for blackmailing or settling scores cannot be the excuse to reject 92-95% of appeals." 

Another RTI activist Lokesh Batra alleged that the CIC was misusing rules to reject appeals on technical grounds. For instance, an appeal would be returned if it's not accompanied with the required documents.

Venkatesh Nayak, RTI program coordinator at the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) says RTIs are refused when an applicant is not an individual but part of an institution or the mentioned department is wrong. 

The NDA government’s attitude is not hard to understand. Although, it was the UPA government which enacted the RTI in 2005, the Congress tried to dilute the law in 2013 by amending it to increase the number of exceptions under which information could be denied. However, it had to withdraw the amendments under pressure from activists.

The Economic Times report also shows that on average, one RTI user has been killed every two months since 2005.

Apart from the reluctance of governments in power to provide information, RTI questions have been met with violence and hostility. From 2005 to 2015, there have been 289 cases of hostility as per data collected by CHRI of which 59 resulted in murder.

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