Is the Central Information Commission toothless?
As per the RTI Act, 2005 all central government public authorities are supposed to file returns before the Central Information Commission (CIC) which contains details on how many applications were received, the amount of fee received, the number of applications disposed and the number of cases in which information was denied etc. every quarter. This information is compiled by the CIC in the form of an annual report which is laid before the parliament. However, the CIC is finding it difficult in getting this information from the ministries. The CIC had tabled only three annual reports (2005-06, 2006-07, 2007-08) till the last monsoon session. The Parliament's Committee pulled up the Central Information Commission for not compiling its report on how the government had been faring on RTI implementation and thereafter, the CIC tabled three reports (2008-09, 2009-10 and 2010-11).
Chief Information Commissioner Satyananda Mishra has reportedly said that since the RTI Act was implemented in October 2005, the CIC has never got full information from the government on its RTI Act implementation despite repeated reminders. Shri Mishra wrote a letter to Parliamentary Affairs Minister Mr. Pawan Bansal, seeking his help in making all the ministries submit their RTI returns but was asked to pursue the matter with Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), the nodal ministry for RTI Act.
Looking into the problems faced by the Central Information Commission (CIC) in getting the copies of annual returns about the performance of the public authorities as to how they are implementing RTI Act even after such a long time raises a need for some drastic measures.