Skip to main content

RTI: Only 13% of Central Ministries compliant with transparency directive


By Venkatesh Nayak*
To ensure compliance with proactive information disclosure obligations under the Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI Act), under Rule 10 of the Rules of Procedure in Regard to the Proceedings of Cabinet, 1987, government ministries/ departments are required to submit reports to the Cabinet Secretariat every month. With the exception of the Ministry of Coal no other Ministry had volunteered to make this information public.
In April 2016, the Central Information Commission (CIC) had issued a recommendation to the Cabinet Secretariat to upload monthly reports of work done by all Ministries and Departments on their respective websites. Within two months of the CIC’s recommendation, the Cabinet Secretariat issued a circular to all Central Ministries and Departmentsrequiring them to upload monthly reports of their major achievements, significant developments and important events. Ever since, Parliament has been asking questions regarding compliance with this circular.

Central Government admits in Parliament, absence of mechanism to monitor its own transparency directive

On 08 February, 2018, Mr. V. Vijaysai Reddy, MP (YSR Congress) of Andhra Pradesh asked the Hon’ble Prime Minister (PM) in the Rajya Sabha about the existence of the CIC’s order, the Cabinet Secretariat’s circular and as to whether the Government has any mechanism to monitor the compliance across Central Ministries and Departments.
In a written reply to the Unstarred Question of the MP, the Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions (who assists the PM) has once again said that the Government does not have any mechanism to monitor compliance with its own transparency directive
Earlier, in March 2017, the same Minister gave a similar reply to a similar question regarding compliance with the CIC/Cab Sectt.’s directive raised by Mr. Rajesh Ranjan, MP @ Pappu Yadav and Ms. Ranjeet Ranjan, MP (both belonging to Rashtriya Janata Dal) in the Lok Sabha.

Current status of compliance with the transparency directive across Central Ministries and Departments

Anticipating the Central Government’s reply, we we kept ready a quick website check of 52 Central Ministries and 52 Departments under their charge for compliance with the requirement of proactive disclosure of monthly activities and achievements. Our findings about the status of compliance across these 104 entities are given below:
Status of compliance across 52 Central Ministries:
  • Only 13% of the Central Ministries are either fully or reasonably compliant with the transparency directive. Nevertheless, this may be taken as considerable improvement over the compliance rate of 8% that we reported in March 2017 when the issue was raised in the Lok Sabha. If only 47 Ministries that have their own websites are counted, the compliance rate in 2018 goes up to 14.89%;
  • Having uploaded all monthly reports up to January 2018 the Ministry of Environment and Forests and Climate Change is the only entity to comply fully with the transparency directive;
  • Three Ministries- Civil Aviation, Coal and Petroleum and Natural Gas have published monthly reports up to December 2017;
  • The Ministry of Finance has published monthly reports up to November 2017 only;
  • The Ministry of Earth Sciences has published monthly reports from January – December 2017. Reports of previous months are not accessible on its website;
  • The Ministry of Home Affairs is also reasonably compliant with the transparency directive having uploaded reports up to December 2017. But monthly reports for May and July 2017 are missing from this section of its website;
  • The Ministry for Textiles has uploaded the monthly report for December 2017 only. Earlier reports which we found during our last round of compliance survey seem to have been taken off the website;
  • While the Ministry of Mines seems to have stopped publishing monthly reports after February 2017, the Ministry for Rural Development seems to have stopped this practice after July 2016. The Ministry for Corporate Affairs has revived its practice of publishing monthly bulletins since November 2017 which had started in April 2015;
  • Five Ministries (Commerce and Industry; Communications; Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution; Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises and Science and Technology) do not have separate websites of their own. Instead they are accessible to the public through the websites of their constituent departments.
Status of compliance across 52 Central Departments: 
  • Less than 6% (5.7%) of the 52 Central Departments are compliant with the transparency directive having published monthly reports up to December 2017. Of the Depts. that have their own websites, only 6.5% (3 of 46) are compliant with the transparency directive; This figure has remained stagnant since we monitored compliance in 2017;
  • Only the Depts. of Personnel and Training (DoPT) and Food and Public Distribution have uploaded all monthly reports up to December 2017. None of them had uploaded the monthly report for January 2018 at the time of this despatch;
  • DoPT deserves credit for displaying the link to monthly reports more prominently on its Home Page than any other Central Ministry or Department;
  • Department of Justice has published all reports for the calendar year of 2017 but seems to have removed reports of previous months;
  • Department of Investment and Public Asset Management has published only bullet pointed information (2-4) for each month. While the report for December 2017 is accessible easily, earlier reports are archived requiring some effort to trace on the website.
  • Similarly, the monthly reports of the Dept. of Pharmaceuticals are published intermittently and require some effort to locate amidst other documents;
  • Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances stopped publishing monthly reports after January 2017;
  • Department of Health and Family Welfare has not been regular with the publication of its monthly reports. They started publishing in August 2016 but did not resume the practice until June 2017. Publication has stopped once again after October 2017;
  • Six Departments (Border Management; Home; Internal Security; J&K Affairs, Social Justice and Empowerment and States) do not have websites of their own but link to their parent Ministry’s website. Five of these Depts. are under the Ministry of Home Affairs.
(This research was put together by John Mascrinaus and Shikha Chhibbar of ATI Programme, CHRI and Geetika Vyas of Symbiosis Law School NOIDA who interned with CHRI.)

Urgent need for establishing a monitoring mechanism

Section 25(1)(c) of the RTI Act obligates the Central Government to require all public authorities under its control to publish accurate information about their activities from time to time. This is a statutory mandate. The CIC/Cab. Sectt.’s transparency directive is the right steps in this direction. However, the evidence indicates a deficit of both political and bureaucratic will to ensure compliance with this transparency requirement. The Central Government has not committed to developing a mechanism to monitor compliance despite being reminded twice in Parliament. Perhaps it is time to move the CIC again to issue a binding direction for establishing such a mechanism under the Cabinet Secretariat or the DoPT.

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

Comments

TRENDING

Vishwanath has been unfairly excluded from global list of 100 best cricketers

By Harsh Thakor  Gundappa Vishwanath scaled zones in batting artistry or wizardry unparalleled amongst Indian batsmen. The best of his batting was a manifestation of the divine. He was also the epitome of cricketing sportsmanship. Sadly 40 years ago he unceremoniously bid farewell to the International cricket world, after the concluding test at Karachi in 1982-83., in January end. Very hard to visualise a character like Vishwanath being reborn today His memories are embedded in cricket lovers today when sportsmanship and grace have virtually been relegated to oblivion with the game of cricket turned into a commercial commodity. Today agro and unsporting behaviour is a routine feature Vishy shimmered cricket’s spirituality. His behaviour on the cricket field was grace personified, No one in his age defined cricket more as a gentleman’s game, than Vishy. Vishwanath could execute strokes that were surreal with his steel wrists. His strokeplay resembled the touches of a painter’s brush,

Abrogation of Art 370: Increasing alienation, relentless repression, simmering conflict

One year after the abrogation by the Central Government of Art. 370 in Kashmir, what is the situation in the Valley. Have the promises of peace, normalcy and development been realised? What is the current status in the Valley? Here is a detailed note by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties , “Jammu & Kashmir: One Year after Abrogation of Art. 370: Increasing Alienation, Relentless Repression, Simmering Conflict”:

Reproductive, conjugal rights of women in India amidst debate of uniform civil code

By IMPRI Team  A Three-Day Immersive Online Legal Awareness and Certificate Training Course on “Reproductive and Conjugal Rights of Women in India” is an initiative of the Gender Impact Studies Center (GISC), at the IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi, and ran for three consecutive days starting from December 22, 2022 to December 24, 2022. The online paid certification was aimed to provide attendees with an enriching experience on the gender discourse with a special focus on women’s rights and the much-discussed reproductive rights in India.

Covid jabs: Pretexts cited to justify young, healthy succumbing to heart attacks

By Jay Ihsan   Truth is stranger than fiction – when dedicated doctors raised the red flag against the mRNA Covid-19 vaccines, they were persecuted and their concerns barred from being heard. These honest doctors unequivocally made it known the Moderna Pfizer vaccines injure the heart and human body. One of them, Dr Peter McCullough, an American cardiologist, has repeatedly issued the clarion call to people to reject these harmful vaccines. An equally alarmed World Council for Health said the harmful Covid-19 vaccines should be removed from the market and the global inoculation must be stopped. “In Japan the vaccines were not mandated or made compulsory. The vaccines are not safe or effective enough to mandate them. The day the vaccines go away will be a day of celebration,” Dr Mccullough had lamented during an interview with India’s media outfit, Qvive several months ago. Meanwhile, the number of people jabbed with the Covid-19 mRNA vaccines died soon after or have developed lifelong

Gender gap 17%, SC and ST levels of education between 7% to 14% below upper classes

By IMPRI Team  The treatment of school education in a holistic manner and improving school effectiveness in terms of equal opportunities for schooling and learning outcomes has been the aspiration of all and multiple challenges are faced to maintain and provide proper education. On the occasion of India@75: Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, as part of its series- the State of Education- #EducationDialogue, #IMPRI Center for ICT for Development (CICTD), IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi organised a special deliberation on The State of School Education In India with Prof Muchkund Dubey, who is the President of the Council for Social Development, New Delhi. The moderator for the event, Dr Simi Mehta CEO and Editorial Director of the IMPRI. The chair of the event was Prof Jandhyala B.G. Tilak, an Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) National Fellow, the Distinguished Professor at the Council for Social Development, New Delhi and also a Former Professor & Vice-Ch

Rahul Dravid exhibited selflessness in heights unscaled by any other Indian batsman

By Harsh Thakor*  On January 11th maestro Rahul Dravid turned 50. No Indian batsmen were ever more of an embodiment of temperament or grit.as Rahul Dravid. Dravid was the best ambassador of sportsmanship in cricket in his day and age. In his time no Asian batsmen did what the doctor ordered, to the extent of Dravid. Dravid was manifestation of single-mindedess, tenacity and selflessness in sport. One hardly has an adjective to the ice coolness and craft Dravid exhibited in adjusting to the given situation. Rarely did any batsmen exhibit such a clinical o methodical approach to batting.

Data analytics: How scientific enquiry process impacts quality of policy research

By IMPRI Team  Given the multidimensionality of policy and impact research, tech-driven policy prescriptions are playing a dominant role in the 21st century. As such, data analytics have become integral in this space. IMPRI Generation Alpha Data Centre (GenAlphaDC) , IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute New Delhi has successfully conducted a #WebPolicyTalk 6-Week Immersive Online Hands-on Certificate Training Course on Data Analytics for Policy Research, spanning over 6-consecutive Saturdays from October 15th to November 19th, 2022. Along with this, datasets for hands-on learning were also provided for data analysis and learning. Participants were required to make a submission for evaluation at the end of the course, to obtain the certificate. This course comprised hands-on data learning sessions and various expert sessions on data discourses. The course especially catered to data and policy enthusiasts – including students, professionals, researchers, and other individuals lo

NHRC blindly followed BSF status report on fencing farmland off Indo-Bangladesh border

Kirity Roy, Secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM) writes an open letter of protest against the action taken status report on restriction imposed by the BSF personnel upon the villagers of Changmari near Indo-Bangladesh border: *** I have the honour to inform you that we received one action taken status report dated 11.01.2023 from your Commission in respect of the above referred case from where it is revealed that your authority closed the case based on the report of the concerned authorities. In this connection I again raise my voice as the enquiry in respect of the above referred case was not properly conducted. Hence I submit this open letter of protest for the ends of justice. From the action taken status report of the Commission dated 11.01.2023 it is reported that concerned authority submitted a report dated 18.01.2022 where it is reported that the concerned area comes under the OPS responsibility of BOP Chengmari, 62 Bn BSF and is highly susceptible to trans-bo

Great march of migrants during lockdown: Lessons not learned, missed opportunities

By IMPRI Team  A panel discussion on “The Great March of Migrants During The National Lockdown: Lessons Not Learned and Missed Opportunities” was organized by the #IMPRI Center for Human Centre for Human Dignity and Development (CHDD), IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi on the occasion of International Migrants Day, i.e December 18, 2022. Inaugurating the session, Ms Aanchal Kumari, a researcher at IMPRI, welcomed the speakers and participants to the program with an introduction to the eminent panellists. The event was moderated by Dr Devender Singh, a Visiting Senior Fellow at IMPRI. The panellists included Prof. R.B Bhagat, Professor and Head, Department of Migration and Urban Studies, International Institute for Population Sciences, Mumbai; Prof Arun Kumar, Distinguished Economist, a Former Professor Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi and Malcolm S. Adiseshiah Chair Professor, Institute of Social Sciences, New Delhi; Ms Akriti Bhatia, Founder of People

Brutal assault on Delhi Univ students as fear grips present rulers on rise of dissent

By Arhaan Baaghi  Various democratic student organizations (bsCEM, fraternity, DSU, SIO, AIRSO) had planned a screening of the BBC documentary "India: The Modi Question" in the Delhi University Arts Faculty, but the guards of the university and the Delhi police along with paramilitary forcefully detained the students just because we were trying to watch a documentary that scrutinizes the role of Modi in 2002 Gujarat riots. At first when the students started screening the documentary, the electricity of the department building was cut down. Students were brutally beaten by the police and university guards. Female students were also brutally manhandled and beaten. This whole incident shows the Brahmanical Hindutva fascist nature of the government and the university authority that is working as its puppet. An activist of bsCEM was manhandled by a male security guard, who tried to pull out his T shirt. Also various female activist were dragged by male security guards and their h