Losing steam: RTI appeals pile up

The Right to Information law is one of the strongest tools available to the ordinary citizens to try and get justice without paying any bribes.

But two years after it became a law, a huge backlog of appeals against decisions by the Information Commissioners and High Courts is perhaps weakening the law.

The State Information Commission of Maharashtra has a backlog of 11,000 cases. Nearly 600 more are added every month, while they dispose off 400 cases every month.

The Central Information Commission in Delhi has close to 4000 cases pending and on an average it takes each case 4-5 months to be heard.

Moreover activists say most government departments and some companies have got stays from courts to avoid giving out information.

While the RTI does allow courts and organisations to fix the amount to be charged for information, in some cases the fee has gone up 50 times.

''The Allahabad HC has fixed a fee of Rs 500. The entire focus should be that the RTI is a pro people act and an impression should not go out that it is making it difficult for the common man to get information. If they charge Rs 500 then this is the impression that is sent out,'' said O P Kejriwal, Central Information Commissioner.

The success of the RTI has been its ability to break through and finally get information. But a huge backlog of cases both at the courts and the commission threaten to slow down and possibly weaken the effectiveness of this law which has already helped ordinary Indians get justice.