SAFEGUARDING THE RTI REPORT OF THE PEOPLES RTI

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SAFEGUARDING THE RTI REPORT OF THE PEOPLE’S RTI ASSESSMENT 2008 SUMMARY OF FINDINGS Shekhar

SAFEGUARDING THE RTI REPORT OF THE PEOPLE’S RTI ASSESSMENT 2008 SUMMARY OF FINDINGS Shekhar Singh Right to Information Assessment and Analysis Group (Raa. G) and National Campaign for People’s Right to Information (NCPRI)

FINDINGS: Awareness Levels • Nearly 65% of the randomly selected respondents stated access to

FINDINGS: Awareness Levels • Nearly 65% of the randomly selected respondents stated access to information would help solve basic problems. • Over 40% of urban and under 20% of rural respondents knew about the RTI Act. • Source of awareness • rural: news papers (35%), followed by television and radio, friends and relatives (10% each), and NGOs (5%). • Urban: newspapers (30%), NGOs (20%), TV (20%) friends and relatives (10% ). 2

Use of the RTI Act • An estimated 400, 000 applicants from the villages

Use of the RTI Act • An estimated 400, 000 applicants from the villages of India filed RTI applications in the first two and a half years of the RTI Act. • An estimated 1. 6 million applications were filed in urban areas in the first two and a half years of the RTI Act. • Disturbingly, over 90% of the rural applicants and 85% of the urban applicants were males 3

PROFILE OF USERS ARE THEY THE ELITE? WELL TO DO? HIGHLY EDUCATED? MOSTLY GOVERNMENT

PROFILE OF USERS ARE THEY THE ELITE? WELL TO DO? HIGHLY EDUCATED? MOSTLY GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES? Nearly 60% of the rural and 40% of the urban applicants were not even graduates. Only 6% of the rural and 15% of the urban applicants were government employees. About 30% rural and 15% urban applicants and had BPL or Antyodaya ration cards. 4

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Filing Applications: Problems • Over 40% rural 15% urban respondents faced harassment and threats

Filing Applications: Problems • Over 40% rural 15% urban respondents faced harassment and threats from officials. • Nearly 30% of the villagers filing RTI applications for us reported that they were discouraged by the PIO from filing the application. • Difficult to get Addresses of PIOs at district and sub-district level. 6

Filing Applications/Appeals: Problems • Differing Rules –there are 114 different sets of RTI rules

Filing Applications/Appeals: Problems • Differing Rules –there are 114 different sets of RTI rules in India and no one place where they are all available. • Some states insist on even correspondence in local language – despite S. 4(4). • Poor signage, multiple windows, multiple visits to PAs, multiplicity of PIOs. 7

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90% Success Rate of States/Central Government: Our Experience 82% 80% 81% 70% 60% 58%

90% Success Rate of States/Central Government: Our Experience 82% 80% 81% 70% 60% 58% 56% 53% 49% 50% 40% 40% 30% 29% 23% 20% 10% 0% MEG Centre DEL AP ORI GUJ MAH RAJ WB UP KAR 11 ASS

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Impact of the RTI on PAs • Over 20% of the rural and 45%

Impact of the RTI on PAs • Over 20% of the rural and 45% of the urban PIOs claimed that changes had been made in the functioning of their offices because of RTI. • Over 60% of these changes pertained to improving record maintenance. • Interestingly in 10% of the rural PAs and 25% of the urban PAs what had resulted were changes in procedures of functioning and decision making. 14

First Appeals • For over 80% of the 213 first appeals we filed, there

First Appeals • For over 80% of the 213 first appeals we filed, there was no response from the first appellate and we either had to go for second appeal or abandon the case. Another 11% were rejected, and only 9% were allowed partly or wholly. • Great variation in handling identical RTI applications - PIOs and FAA. 15

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DIFFICULTIES FACED BY PIOs • over 30% of the rural PIOs admitted that they

DIFFICULTIES FACED BY PIOs • over 30% of the rural PIOs admitted that they did not know the provisions of the RTI Act. All of the urban PIOs claimed that they knew the RTI Act well. • Nearly 60% of the rural and urban stated that they had not been trained. • 50% of the rural and 5% of the urban PIOs do not have a copy of the RTI act available to them! 18

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 • Except for MAH, KAR, GUJ and ARU, where quarterly breakup was not

• Except for MAH, KAR, GUJ and ARU, where quarterly breakup was not available. Their average has been taken. Also, for MAN, MEG, and NAG huge variations between quarters, so again average has been taken. 24

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Note: zero means less than 0. 1 26

Note: zero means less than 0. 1 26

Penalties • The number of cases where some penalty should have been imposed (just

Penalties • The number of cases where some penalty should have been imposed (just for delayed supply of information), by very conservative estimates, would be 22, 500 in the 18 commissions for which the relevant data was available. Let us round it off to 20, 000. The actual penalties imposed were 373, or about 1. 9%!! 27

Budget and Infrastructure • Half of the information commissions responding stated that the budgets

Budget and Infrastructure • Half of the information commissions responding stated that the budgets allocated to them were not adequate. • 85% of them thought that the staff sanctioned to them was not adequate. • Nearly 60% of the commissions did not have what they considered to be adequate infrastructure. • There is no uniformity in the funding or staffing patterns of information commissions. 28

Autonomy of Information Commissions • 75% of the ICs responding to our questionnaire admitted

Autonomy of Information Commissions • 75% of the ICs responding to our questionnaire admitted that they were not financially independent. • Only half of the ICs responding had offices independent of other government offices. • Only four of the 13 responding ICs: Andhra Pradesh, Meghalaya, Tripura and Uttarakhand, were satisfied that state governments were following orders of the commission. 29

Future directions • Detailed report on information commissions • Analysis of the content of

Future directions • Detailed report on information commissions • Analysis of the content of 15, 000 RTI applications • Process documentation • State reports • Assessment of Court orders • Ongoing monitoring and evaluation Thank you 30