STATE TIMES NEWS
NEW DELHI: While pointing out that over the last 8 years of the Modi Government, the RTI (Right to Information) cases disposal rate has consistently increased despite Covid, Union Minister, Dr Jitendra Singh on Thursday said that, interestingly, the RTI cases recorded even higher disposal rate in certain given time-periods during COVID, compared to normal times.
This , he said, was possible because the entire functioning had shifted to Online mode much before the pandemic was anticipated.
Replying to series of questions in the Rajya Sabha, Dr. Jitendra Singh said, following the big Digital India push by Prime Minister Narendra Modi since he came to power in May 2014, the Online Platform got strengthened and streamlined to such an extent that even the COVID induced lockdown had least effect on the functioning of Central Information Commission (CIC) including the compliance and disposal of RTI cases.
Dr Jitendra said, from 2007-2014 i.e. 7 years of the UPA rule saw a compliance rate of about 77%, while in the last 7 years of the present government, compliance rate has been about 94%. He said, in the 7 years of UPA rule, disposal rate was 81.79% (1,32,406), while in 7 years of the present government it is 92% (1,60,643).
Dr. Jitendra Singh said, the Central Information Commission has worked assiduously even during the lockdown period and despite the challenges of the pandemic, higher disposal of cases became possible due to extensive use of e-office and latest use of technological tools for facilitating the hearings in the Commission. CIC also ensured that audio and video hearings were resorted to, to pave the way for smooth conduct of the hearings and facilitate participation of both the appellants and respondents. In this manner, the Commission ensured continuous disposal of cases.
The Minister said, instead of delay, there has been expediency in the procedures, the disposal rate has gone up to over about 94%, and, this is because all the members of the Commission are usually sought to be kept in place and the vacancies are filled up on time, along with the online procedures and simplification of the RTI filing. He said, timelines have been fixed for first, second and third appeals.
Dr. Jitendra said, as far as the public authorities are concerned, the number is around 25,000 across the country and the percentage of their filing annual returns is almost more than 92%, which was not happening earlier.