Rural masses most vulnerable to graft, spread awareness about RTI Act in rural areas: Par panel

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New Delhi, Mar 24 (PTI) Asserting that rural masses or the people most vulnerable to corrupt practices are the ones who know the least about their rights under the RTI Act, a parliamentary committee has asked the transparency watchdog CIC to spread awareness about the law in rural areas.

The panel expressed concern over a large number of vacancies in the posts of Information Commissioners in state Information Commissions and asked the Central Information Commission (CIC) to furnish a status note in three months.

“Transparency is the corner stone of good governance. Right to Information Act (RTI) has played an instrumental role in bringing about transparency,” the Department-Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice said in its 106th report on Demands for Grants (2021-22) of the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions.

The Committee is of the view that rural masses- the people most vulnerable to corrupt practices are the ones who know the least about their rights under RTI Act, it said.

“The Committee recommends CIC to spread awareness about the Act in rural areas through All India Radio, folk plays and other means and perhaps involve civil society and NGOs to achieve the said objective,” said the report.

The Committee recommended CIC to simplify the mode of payment of RTI fees further, it said.

“The Committee recommends CIC to evaluate the effectiveness of RTI Act and to assess the challenges being faced by competent authorities in its implementation. The Committee recommends CIC to examine if the provisions of the RTI Act are being misused to collect information for research purposes or to settle personal scores,” the report said.

The Committee is concerned to note that there are a large number of vacancies in the posts of Information Commissioners in state Information Commissions, it said.

“The Committee desires CIC to furnish a status note detailing the strength of all State Information commissions in a three months time,” said the report tabled in Parliament on March 16.

There have been constant efforts on part of the government to further streamline and strengthen the existing mechanisms for successful and effective implementation of the RTI Act, it said.

A total of 38,601 second appeals and complaints were pending with the CIC as on January 28, 2021. Of these, 61 were pending for more than five years, 18,423 for 1-5 years and 20,117 for 0-1 year, it added.

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