Shah: Promoting transparency to reduce need to file RTI pleas

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NEW DELHI: Home minister Amit Shah on Saturday said a large number of RTI applications do not represent a government’s success and added that the Centre is working to create a governance system to enable people with information so that they do not feel the need to file for information.
While agreeing that the Right to Information Act over a 14-year journey has acted as the bridge to build public trust that was missing in the governance system, Shah said the law should be used to promote transparency and not be used for personal reasons. He cited the governance tracker dashboard introduced by PM Narendra Modi as the beginning of a new era in transparent governance.
“For instance, one can go to the dashboard and see how many toilets have been built under Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan. Women can click on the dashboard and get to know the status as to when will they get a cooking gas cylinder under the Ujjwala Yojana,” he said. He was speaking at the 14th annual convention of the Central Information Commission in New Delhi.
Shah also urged the central information commissioner and the RTI machinery to inform people about steps taken so that they don’t file RTI applications for information already available in the public domain.
He reiterated that RTI must be used judiciously and not filed to harass anyone by filing an application to delay a promotion or stall a tender to serve some vested interests.
Meanwhile, chief information commissioner Sudhir Bhargava shared the status of complaints to point that in 2014-15, 7.55 lakh complaints were received under RTI by various government departments. This number rose to 13.7 lakh in 2018-19. However, in terms of rejection of applications had gone down from 8.39% in 2014-15 to 4% in 2018-19. A comparison of the same period shows that first appeals are down from 10.29% to 9.29% and second appeal from 4.19% to 1.39% .
Even as Shah emphasised on an efficient governance system, Central Information Commission is currently working with just seven information commissioners including its chief. Four posts of information commissioners are lying vacant which is seen to be the major cause for growing pendency of complaints and appeals in the Commission. As of today the pending cases add up to over 33,000 .

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