Skip to main content

Average rejection rate of RTI pleas: 7% in Govt of India, 21% in PM Office

By Venkatesh Nayak*
The preliminary findings are based on a quick study of the Annual Report of the Central Information Commission (CIC) for the year 2013-14 (click HERE to download) suggest that, overall, there is a drop in the percentage of public authorities reporting to the CIC on their right to information (RTI) stats. More than a quarter of the public authorities have not reported their RTI stats to the CIC. The reporting compliance rose in 2012-13 but fell again in 2013-14. The highest rate was in 2005-06 followed by 2007-08 when the reporting was more than 85%. CIC is not able to compel a large number of public authorities to submit data.
This is cause for concern. RTI activists should demand that departmental action be initiated against the senior officers of these errant ministries and departments for violating the civil service conduct rules. Last year the Conduct Rules for all All-India Services Officers (IAS, IPS and IFoS) were amended to make transparency and accountability core values. Not adhering to a core value could potentially be treated as misconduct.
Parliament (Secretariats of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha) has never given RTI stats to the CIC even once in the last 9 years. This is something which the CIC is not even mentioning in its report year after year. Yet, Parliament has the right to get Annual Reports on the implementation of the RTI Act every year under Section 25 of the RTI Act. This is a contradiction of sorts that the supervisory body itself has never submitted RTI stats to the CIC. The RTI stats for Parliament are not part of the stats given by the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, or else they would have been specifically mentioned like the Supreme Court whose RTI stats are reported under the stats of the Union Home Ministry. Similarly, the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) which is the nodal Department for implementing the RTI Act also did not submit its RTI stats to the CIC for 2013-14.
Delhi High Court has also never submitted RTI stats to the CIC till date although the Supreme Court has done so every year faithfully. The Law Commission of India also did not submit its RTI stats in 2013-14.
The CIC report contains some errors. For example, in the list of public authorities that have not submitted their RTI stats, the Supreme Court and the Ministry of Minority Affairs are mentioned.
Some of the other prominent public authorities that are named in the CIC’s Annual Report for not filing their RTI stats with the CIC for 2013-13 are:
  • Ministries & Departments: Ministry of Coal, Ministry for Development of North Eastern Region, Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Ministry of Women and Child Development, Department of Defence Production, Department of AIDS Control, Department of Health Research, Department of School Education and Literacy, and Department of Justice.
  • Public sector undertakings: Air India, Coal India Ltd., Oil companies such as- HPCL, IOCL and Oil India, Fertiliser Corporation of India, National Highways Authority of India and Delhi Metro.
  • Autonomous Bodies: Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC); National Disaster Management Authority, Northeastern Police Academy, NCERT, Staff Selection Commission, National Commission for Backward Classes, National Commission for Scheduled Castes, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights and National Jute Board.
  • Regulatory Bodies: Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority; Food Safety and Standards Authority of India; Medical Council of India, Central Board of Secondary Education, Directorate General of Mines Safety, a large number of Directors General of Income Tax, Chief Commissioners of Income Tax and Customs in places like Nagpur, Delhi, Vadodara, Patna, Jaipur, Lucknow,
  • Quasi-judicial authorities: Central Administrative Tribunal, a host of Debt Recovery Tribunals in places like Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Kolkata, a host of labour courts and industrial tribunals in Ahmedabad, Kolkata, Jabalpur, Mumbai, Delhi, Chandigarh,
  • Educational institutions: Assam University, IIMs of Bengaluru, Ranchi and Kashipur, Puducherry University, Tripura University, University of Allahabad and GGS Indraprastha University.
  • Law enforcement authorities: Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) .
  • Other public authorities: a host of museums and libraries under the Ministry of Culture, Forest Survey of India; Guru teg Bahadur Hospital and a host of departments in the Secretariats of the Union territories of Delhi, Chandigarh and Puducherry.
CIC puts the total number of RTI applications received by the public authorities reporting to it in 2013-14 at 9.62 lakh (962,000+). This is not the correct figure as it includes pending RTI applications from the previous year. The correct figure for receipts in 2013-14 is 8.34 lakh (834,000+). This shows a marginal decline in the rate of receipts when compared to the rate of increase between 2011-12 and 2012-13. RTI applications increased by 22% in 2012-13 as compared to the previous year. But the increase in 2013-14 is a mere 2.7%. So the question to ask is whether RTI fatigue is setting in or will the numbers go up considerably if all public authorities were to report their RTI stats.
The proportion of rejections for reasons other that Sections 8, 9, and 24 is increasing. Each year the CIC expresses worry about this trend but has done precious little to inquire into the reasons. Under the RTI Act a request can be rejected only for reasons under Sections 8, 9 and 24. Section 11 (third party) is not a ground for rejection. It is only a procedure as rejection must still be based on reasons given in Sections 8 and 9 or 24. For all of GoI, the rejection under “Others” has increased by 4.4% over the previous year. However there is a reduction in the number of instances where Section 8(1)(c) – parliamentary privilege, 8(1)(e) – fiduciary relationship, 8(1)(g)- endangering life, 8(1)(h)- impeding law enforcement or trial or arrest, 8(1)(i)- Cabinet exemption and 8(1)(j) – privacy have been invoked overall. The total rejection rate has also come down by 0.5% while the number of requests has grown by 2.2%.
The trend of rejections in the PMO, Rashtrapati Bhawan, Supreme, Court, Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) and particularly the Ministry of Personnel which includes the DoPT- nodal department for RTI is increasing year on year. The rejection rates for these public authorities below which is well above the Government of India (GoI) average of 7.20%:
  • Prime Minister’s Office – 20.50%
  • Rashtrapati Bhawan – 10.7%
  • Supreme Court – 23.80%
  • Comptroller and Auditor General – 7% (here the comparison is with the previous year’s rejection rate of 5.80%)
  • Ministry of Personnel, public grievances and pensions – 14.50%
  • Ministry of Corporate Affairs – 28.80%
  • Ministry of Power – 16.10%
  • Delhi Police – 9.2%
However the highest rejection rates overall (not counting the Section 24 organisations) are for:
  • Allahabad Bank- 34.69%
  • Andhra Bank- 41.6%
  • Bank of Maharashtra – 43.2%
  • Corporation Bank – 43.9%
  • Dena Bank – 35.1%
  • Bank of Baroda – 32.4%
  • Canara Bank – 44.9%
  • Oriental Bank of Commerce- 35%
  • State Bank of Hyderabad – 58% (whereas SBI’s rate is only 18.2%)
  • Vijaya Bank – 39.3%
The rejection rate for the Reserve Bank of India which is the daddy of all these Banks is only 3.7% — well below the average for GoI as a whole.
Rejection rate in the Finance Ministry has reduced this year although it receives the largest number of RTI applications. Ministry of External Affairs’ rejection rate is down by more than 40% even though the number of RTI applications has gone up. Similarly the rejection rates in Railways, Commerce, Chemicals and Fertilisers, Civil Aviation, Food and Environment Ministry have also fallen substantially. Amongst the constitutional authorities the Election Commission has the lowest rejection rate. There is a reduction in the rejection rates of the Army. But the Navy has seen a whopping increase in the rejection rate from 1% in 2012-13 to almost 7% last year. The Air Force has seen a marginal increase in the rejection rate.
Corporate Affairs Ministry has seen an almost 300% increase in the rejection rate last year. Power Ministry’s rejection rate has doubled. Labour Ministry’s rejection rate appears to be drastically down, but then they have shown a very poor reporting rate. So that will not count.
There was a decline in the number of RTI applications filed with Delhi Police in 2012-13 compared to the previous year. But the trend is increasing in 2013-14.
Rejection rate in Defence Ministry has increased but their pendency of RTI applications from previous year is also very high. Reasons are not known for such high pendency unless a very large number of RTI applications were filed in the last month of the previous reporting year.
HRD Ministry is interestingly reporting that a large number of RTIs were rejected under Section 8(1)(f)- information received in confidence from foreign governments. This phenomenon requires study to check whether the rejections are form the Ministry itself or from the IITs and other institutes under it.
Although Railways got 12.2% of the RTI applications which is probably the most submitted to a single entity, their rejection rate has fallen down below 1%. This is a good sign and the reasons for this decline must be studied.
From the narrative portion of the CIC report it appears that the amount of penalty imposed has gone up by 31% in 2013-14. While Rs 13.19 lakh was the total amount levied in 2012-13, it has risen up to Rs 19.25 lakh last year. While recovery was Rs 10.19 lakh last year it was Rs 7.61 lakh in 2012-13. This shows an increase of 25% in the recovery rate. It looks like civil society criticism about poor record of imposing penalties is yielding results slowly. Strangely, there is no reference to the amount of compensation awarded in the last two reports of the CIC.

*Programme Coordinator, Access to Information Programme, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, Delhi

Comments

TRENDING

CAG’s audit report creates a case for dismantling of UIDAI, scrapping Aadhaar

By Gopal Krishna  The total estimated budget of the biometric UID/Aadhaar number project and its cost: benefit analysis has not been disclosed till date. Unless the total estimated budget of the project is revealed, all claims of benefits are suspect and untrustworthy. How can one know about total savings unless the total cost is disclosed? Can limited audit of continuing expenditure of Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), an instrumentality of Union of India be deemed a substitute for total estimated budget of the biometric UID/Aadhaar number project of UIDAI? It has been admitted by CAG that the audit of functioning of the UIDAI is partial because of non-transparency. The report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India arising from performance audit of functioning of the UIDAI for the period from 2014-15 to 2018-19 is incomplete because it is based on statistical information “to the extent as furnished by UIDAI” upto March 2021. There is also a need to compa

Women for Water: WICCI resource council for empowering women entrepreneurs, leaders

By Mansee Bal Bhargava*  The Water Resources Council of the Women’s Indian Chamber of Commerce & Industry is formed for 2022-24. A National Business Chamber for Women, the Women’s Indian Chamber of Commerce & Industry ( WICCI ) is a premier association empowering women entrepreneurs and leaders in all walks of life through advocacy, pro-active representations to government, implementing projects for women via funds allocated by various government agencies and corporates, plus bringing awareness on all issues that concern women. WICCI boosts and builds women’s entrepreneurship and businesses through greater engagement with government, institutions, global trade and networks. WICCI enables fundamental changes in governmental policies, laws, incentives and sanctions through proper channel, with a view to robustly encourage and empower women in business, industry and commerce across all sectors. WICCI is supported by the massive global networks of ALL Ladies League (ALL), Women Eco

75 yrs of water in India: whither decentralised governance to sustain the precious resource?

By Shubhangi Rai, Megha Gupta, Fawzia Tarannum, Mansee Bal Bhargava Looking into the last century, water resources management have come a long way from the living with water in the villages to the nimbyism and capitalism in the cities to coming full cycle with room for water in the villages. With the climate change induced water crisis, the focus on conservation and management of water resources if furthered in both national and local agenda. The Water management 2021 report by NITI Aayog acknowledges that water and sustainability are of immense importance for the sustenance of life on earth. Water is intricately linked to the health, food security and livelihood. With business as usual, India’s water availability will only be enough to meet 50% of its total demand and 40% of the population in India will have no access to drinking water and sanitation by 2030 . Its Composite Water Management Index 2021 states that ‘India is suffering from the worst water crisis in its history and mil

Grassroot innovations in water management: Policy challenges amidst climate change

By Shubhangi Rai[1], Megha Gupta[2], Mansee Bal Bhargava[3] India despite of having a vast traditional water management history continue to struggle with water crisis from disasters like floods and droughts but more with social distress leading to asymmetric access to water goods and services. The rising water crisis in a country that is abundant in water resources and wisdom is worth questioning and resolving. The knowledge that was passed on by our ancestors who used a diverse range of structures that helped harvest rainwater locally besides replenish and recharge the groundwater along the way. Formal and informal rules were locally crafted by the community on who to use the water, how much to use, when to use, how to penalise for misuse, how to resolve conflicts and many more. As a nation, we need to revive our dying wisdom of the traditional water management systems and as water commons, enable the governing mechanisms towards sustainability. In the session on ‘ Grassroot Innovatio

Need to destroy dowry, annihilate greed and toxic patriarchy in India

By IMPRI Team Talking about an evil ever-persistent in our society and highlighting the presence of toxic patriarchy, #IMPRI Gender Impact Studies Center (GISC) , IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi organized a panel discussion on Destroy Dowry: Annihilation of Greed and Toxic Patriarchy in India under the series The State of Gender Equality – #GenderGaps on May 4, 2022. The chair for the event was Prof Vibhuti Patel, Former Professor, Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai and a Visiting Professor, IMPRI. The distinguished panel included – Asha Kulkarni, General Secretary at Anti Dowry Movement, Mumbai ; Kamal Thakar, Sahiyar Stree Sangathan ; Adv Celin Thomas, Advocate at Celin Thomas and Associates, Bengaluru; Shalini Mathur, Honorary Secretary, Suraksha Dahej Maang Virodhi Sanstha Tatha Parivar Paraamarsh Kendra, Lucknow and Secretary, Nav Kalyani Foundation, Gender Resource and Training Centre; and Dr Bharti Sharma, Honorary Secretary, Shakti Shalini

Impact of climate change on Gujarat pastoralists' traditional livelihood

By Varsha Bhagat-Ganguly, Karen Pinerio* We are sharing a study[1] based learning on climate resilience and adaptation strategies of pastoralists of Kachchh district, Gujarat. There are two objectives of the study: (i) to examine the impact of climate on traditional livelihood of pastoralists of Gujarat state; and (ii) to explore and document the adaptation strategies of pastoralists in mitigating climate adversities, with a focus on the role of women in it. In order to meet these objectives, the research inquiries focused on how pastoralists perceive climate change, how climate change has impacted their traditional livelihood, i.e., pastoralism in drylands (Krätli 2015), and how these pastoral families have evolved adaptation strategies that address climate change (CC)/ variabilities, i.e., traditional livelihood of pastoralists of Kachchh district, Gujarat state. Pastoralism is more than 5,000 years old land-use strategy in India; it is practised by nomadic (their entire livelihood r

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine: Implications for India and emerging geopolitics

By IMPRI Team In the backdrop of the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, #IMPRI Center for International Relations and Strategic Studies (CIRSS) , IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi hosted a panel discussion on Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine: Implications for India and Emerging Geopolitics. The event was chaired by Ambassador Anil Trigunayat (IFS Retd.), Former Ambassador to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Libya, and Malta; Former Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of India, Moscow. The panelists of the event were Prof Waheguru Pal Singh Sidhu, Clinical Professor, Center for Global Affairs, New York University; H.E. Freddy Svane, Ambassador, Royal Danish Embassy, New Delhi; Maj. Gen. (Dr) P. K. Chakravorty, Strategic Thinker on Security Issues; and T. K. Arun, Senior Journalist, and Columnist. Ambassador Anil Trigunayat commenced the discussion by stating the fact that wars are evil. He opines that no war has ever brought peace and prosperity to any country and

Making Indian cities disaster, climate resilient: Towards actionable urban planning

By IMPRI Team  Three-Day Online Certificate Training Programme on “Making Indian Cities Disaster and Climate Change Resilient: Towards Responsive and Actionable Urban Planning, Policy and Development”: Day 1 A three day Online Certificate Training Programme on the theme “Making Indian Cities Disaster and Climate Change Resilient: Towards Responsive and Actionable Urban Planning, Policy and Development”, a joint initiative of the National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM) , Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, was held at the Centre for Habitat, Urban and Regional Studies at IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi. Inaugurating the session Ms. Karnika Arun, Researcher at IMPRI, welcomed the speakers and participants to the program with an introduction to the eminent panellists. Day 1 of the program included Prof Anil K Gupta, Head ECDRM, NIDM, New Delhi and Mr Tikender Singh Panwar, Former Deputy Mayor, Shimla; Visiting Senior Fellow, IMPRI as conveners, an

Gender gap: Women face disproportionate barriers in accessing finance

By IMPRI Team Women worldwide disproportionately face barriers to financial access that prevents them from participating in the economy and improving their lives. Providing access to finance for women is crucial for financial inclusion and, consequently, inclusive growth. To deliberate and encourage dialogue and discussion for growth, the Gender Impact Studies Center (GISC) of IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi, organized a web policy talk by Mr S. S. Bhat, Chief Executive Officer Friends of Women’s World Banking India, Ahmedabad on ‘Access to Finance for Women’ as a part of its series The State of Gender Equality – #GenderGaps. The session was started by the moderator, Chavi Jain, by introducing the speaker and the discussants and inviting Prof. Vibhuti Patel to start the deliberation. Importance of access to finance for women Prof. Vibhuti Patel, Visiting Professor, IMPRI, New Delhi; Former Professor, Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai, began by expre

Hindutva patriotism: State-sponsored effort to construct religion-based national identity

By Harasankar Adhikari Rabindranath Tagore (1908) said, "Patriotism can’t be our final spiritual shelter. "I will not buy glass for a diamond, and I will never let patriotism triumph over humanity as long as I live." Tagore’s view stands in sharp contrast to what we are witnessing today, when patriotism means religious differences between the majority (Hindu) and minority (Muslim). Our secular nation is gradually disobeying its secular nature and it is being patronised by political leaders and their narrow politics. India’s unique character of ‘unity in diversity’ is trying to be saffronised. Hindu extremism (Hindutvavadis) generates a culture of religious intolerance. Democratic India is based upon the ideology of equality of all. This nation is based upon different foundations than most of those which went before it. Its legitimacy lies in its being able to satisfy its various component communities that their interests will be safeguarded by the Indian state