New Delhi: Union Finance Ministry topped the list of ministries to receive the maximum number of RTI applications in 2016-17. It also happened to be the one to reject the maximum number of requests under the RTI Act for disclosure of information.
On Friday, the Central Information Commission (CIC) came out with its Annual Report, 2016-17 that highlighted the status of RTI in India and the manner in which they have been dealt with by various public authorities.
By 2016-17, as many as 2,092 public authorities have been registered with the CIC.
During the year, a total of 11,29,457 RTI applications were pending for disposal as opposed to 11,65,217 such requests in 2015-16. This indicated a decline in RTI applications received during the year by 6.1 percent.
Out of the total RTI applications dealt with in 2016-17, 60,428 applications (6.59%) were rejected. In the previous year, the percentage of rejection was 6.62.
Fifty one percent of the rejection referred to Section 8(1) of the RTI Act, citing sovereignty and integrity of the country as also its security and strategic, scientific or economic interest, commercial confidence, trade secrets, or intellectual property as reasons for refusal to part with the information. In the previous year, 47 percent of total rejection was on this ground.
Most of these rejections were by the government companies, under the Companies Act while the Finance Ministry accounted for maximum receipt of RTI applications as well as their rejection among all the ministries.
In 2016-17, the Finance Ministry received 1,51,186 RTI applications, out of which 27,833 were rebuffed. This amounted to 18.41 percent rejection of RTI applications in the year of demonetisation.
Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Labour and Employment and Prime Minister's Office were the other three government offices with a rate of rejection over 10 percent.
In 2016-17, the CIC imposed penalties amounting to Rs 18.97 lakh on grounds such as wrongful denial of information and delay in giving information. Rs 8.59 lakh was received during this year against the penalties imposed by the Commission over the years.
Significantly, penalty orders of the Commission have not been stayed by any high court during the year.
As on April 1, 2017, 26,449 cases were pending for disposal before the Commission.