Several persons from all over India responded to the investigative study and narrated their views and experience . Based on such response and discussions with
cross section of RTI activists, the investigative study was completed and the findings of the study are given
response level :
As per the RTI Act
,the details should be sent by the
concerned authorities to the information
seekers within thirty days. When RTI Act
was introduced with much fanfare, the government departments mostly responded
to the request for information within the stipulated time. Even if the
particular information could not be made available, there was
acknowledgement of the request and
explanations were provided about the action taken in the matter to provide appropriate
However, in the
last several months , there has been
steep deterioration in the response level to the RTI queries . The Public
Information Officers of several concerned departments do not anymore adhere to
thirty days deadline and they seem to be
taking it easy. They often respond only after several
reminders and sometimes do not respond
There are many
instances when one government department would forward the letter to another
department, stating that the other department would be the fit agency to reply,
making the process a vicious cycle with the letters being tossed here and there .
The performance of
the state government departments appear to be much worse than the departments belonging to central government.
Information Commissioners :
In the event of not
getting an acknowledgement or suitable reply, the option left for the RTI activists is
to send the complaint to the Information Commissioner. While Information Commissioner forward such letters to the Appellate Authority directing that the reply should be sent within stipulated period,
often Information Commissioner would not follow up the matter.
Several RTI activists
complain that the Information Commissioners really function as “post office”.
Information Commissioners follow up and conduct enquiry only if the RTI
activist would send repeated reminders and constantly call the Information
Commissioner’s office. The enquiry proceedings
are also time consuming. There are many persons who have been waiting for reply
and suitable action by Information Commissioners for more than one year.
What can a citizen
If the Information
Commissioner would routinely deal with
the matter without taking any effective steps to force the government department to provide reply, then the options left for
the citizen are very limited. In that case, citizens can only go to judiciary
with his complaint and the hearing and judgement from the judiciary would be prolonged affair.
scenario, several activists give up in
No fear of
Information Officers of the concerned departments
do not seem to have fear anymore
that disciplinary action would be taken against them, if they would not respond with the reply
within the stipulated time as per the provisions of the Act.
While there are
hundreds of cases all over India of delayed response or nil response to the RTI
request letters, there is no report of any punishment imposed on the Public
Information officer or Information
Commissioner for dereliction of duty.
Some RTI activists
pointed out that when they would seek information about any issue, particularly
such as land deal, sand quarrying etc. , the concerned departments sometimes leak
out the matter to those who could be affected by the query and consequently
they are threatened and harassed.
Several RTI activists
warn that those seeking any information
about the police have to be careful and
Pessimism about bringing political parties under RTI Act :
There are now several arguments and counter arguments about
bringing political parties under RTI
But, several of the
RTI activists are of the view that even if
political parties were to be brought under RTI Act, it would not make much
difference , since they may not even acknowledge the receipt of the letters
In a situation where even the government
departments do not take the RTI Act
seriously anymore , one cannot expect political parties to behave better.
Is RTI Act now
only an empty measure ?:
Many RTI activists
wonder whether the RTI Act has now been rendered as “toothless act” due to the
indifference and lackadaisical approach of the several government
Overall, there is huge dissatisfaction in the
country about the quality of implementation of the RTI Act.