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Over 1.98 lakh cases pending in 23 Information Commissions

New Delhi: A backlog of over 1.98 lakh cases, including disposal of appeals and complaints, is pending in 23 Information Commissions (IC) across the country, a study has found.

"The maximum number of appeals/complaints are pending in Uttar Pradesh (48,442) followed by Maharashtra (32,390) and Central Information Commission (26,115) as on December 2013," according to a report compiled by the RTI Assessment and Advocacy Group (RaaG).

As per the findings, a total backlog of 1,98,739 cases is pending in 23 Information Commissions (IC) across the country. "There were no backlogs in Mizoram, Sikkim and Tripura," it said. The report has been compiled on the basis of RTI applications filed by RaaG to 28 ICs to seek information on their functioning.

"23 of the 28 information commissions across the country including the Central Information Commission (CIC), provided statistics on the number of appeals and complaints received and disposed," the report titled Peoples Monitoring of the RTI regime in India 2011-2013 said.

While Maharashtra received the highest number of appeals and complaints (73,968) during 2012-2013, followed by CIC (62,723) and UP (62,008), in terms of disposal Maharashtra SIC disposed the highest number of appeals and complaints (61,442) followed by UP (60,875) and CIC (47,662), it said.

During the same period, the number of cases in which penalty was imposed in 21 states, were 3,870 which amounts to just 1.57 per cent of the number of cases disposed. "Data suggests that ICs are imposing penalties in less than 4 per cent of the cases in which they are imposable, there by not only casing huge loss to the exchequer but also encouraging PIOs not to give information to the applicants," said Shekhar Singh, one of the research coordinators.

Compensation was awarded in 1339 cases during the period. ICs of Haryana and Karnataka awarded the highest amount of compensation, Rs 7,69,900 and Rs 7,50,490 respectively.

"In interviews with serving and retired information commissioners, several constraints in the functioning of information commissions were highlighted, the most critical one cited by majority of them was lack of adequate support to the commissioners, both legal and administrative," said Shekhar.

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