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How the Central Information Commission has made the RTI Act Redundant?
Right to Information Act,2005 (more popularly known as RTI Act) was enacted by the Parliament with a view to provide information to the common public from various government departments and institutions, in a time bound manner, with a view to bring more transparency in these departments.

The prime objective of the Act is that any citizen of India can demand the information as per the provisions of this Act and the information shall be provided by the Central Public Information Officer of the Government Department or Institution within a period of 30 days. If the CPIO fails to provide the information within this period or provide such information, which is incomplete, irrelevant or incorrect, then the person seeking the information can make an appeal and thereafter the Appellate Authority shall provide the same information within a maximum period of 45 days.

However, the RTI Act has strangely failed to provide the time limit within which the appeals made to the Central Information Commission shall be decided. Now, if you require any information and you do not get the same from the Central Public Information Officer or the Appellate Authority, then you will have to make a second appeal to the Central Information Commission, but there is no time limit within which your second appeal shall be decided by the Central Information Commission and you will have to wait for the information for an indefinite period.

It seems that, whosoever has drafted the RTI Act, has made this blunder, knowingly, so that if some Government Department or Institution does not want to give information, it should have an unwritten option to provide no information, as there is no body to check, whether information is being given or not, in the timely manner. Central Information Commission, which should have ensured that people get the information in a time bound manner, is itself sleeping. Legally speaking, one can approach the High Court, if Central Information Commission does not pass the order within a reasonable time. But how many persons seeking the information under the RTI Act, will be in a position to engage a lawyer to approach a High Court?

It is a matter of pure common sense that as far as the availability of information is concerned, time is of essence. Information carries a value, only if it is provided in a timely manner. If somebody wants some information, then it should be provided to him/her within a pre-defined reasonable time period (not exceeding 90 days). But if the information is provided after 10 years, then the information itself may become totally useless. Unfortunately, Central Information Commission, is just doing the same. Since there is no time limit given under the RTI Act within which the Central Information Commission has to respond to the Second Appeals, it is taking undue advantage of this lacuna of the RTI Act, and is in the habit of sitting on the Second Appeals submitted to it for an indefinite period.

If the government is of the view that Central Information Commission should continue to function in this manner, then it is better that this Act itself may be repealed so that a huge amount is not spent on the administration of the Commission. If the Government is of the view that common public, really deserve the timely information as provided in the RTI Act, then it must define a time period within which Second Appeals shall be decided by the Central Information Commission.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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