Times of India
Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Mumbai --- Maharashtra has zoomed ahead of other states in the country in using the Right to Information Act (RTI), revealed the State Information Commission. Moreover, the Act has made rapid inroads into the rural districts of Maharashtra.

Based on second appeals and complaints received by the information commission, which is a fair indicator of the number of Right to Information Act applications filed, the panel has come to the conclusion that Maharashtra has bagged the number one slot in Right to Information Act usage. This comes a year after the Right to Information Act came into effect.

According to the statistics provided by the commission, the Maharshtra Information Commission has received 6,641 second appeals and complaints till December last year, while the state commissions received less than 2,000 second appeals and complaints in the same period."The Central Information Commission, which is a second appellate authority for all central government bodies in the country, has received 4,939 second appeals and complaints which is less than that of Maharashtra," said the Right to Information Act activist, Shailesh Gandhi.

Shailesh Gandhi had filed an Right to Information Act query about all pending appeals.

According to RTI activists, this trend was a clear indicator that citizens were using RTI extensively and had also become reasonably aware and skilled so as to be able to file second appeals and complaints.

"The other interesting feature is that the second appeals and complaints under Right to Information Act have come from the revenue divisions in a fairly well distributed manner," Gandhi said.

So far, 15 cases of penalty has been levied by the commission on various government officers, totalling to around Rs. 1.06 lakh, for denying information.

"After a slow start, the information commissioner has disposed of about 110 cases in the last three months. The commissioner disposed of 324 cases in the initial nine months, and has disposed 326 from October to December, 2006." added Gandhi.
(As quoted in Asia Media-Media News Daily)