High courts fail to meet RTI deadline directive by CIC
April, 06th 2012
High courts have failed to adhere to the Central Information Commission's directive to follow the Right to Information (RTI) Act rulebook. CIC, the final appellate authority for RTI Act, had ordered all the high courts to disclose complete information of the organisation, employees, salaries drawn, decisions taken and budget allocated, on their websites by April 1.
However, not a single high court has complied with the direction. In January, CIC Satyananda Mishra had passed the order following complaints by Hyderabad-based RTI activist CJ Karira and Rajasthan's Mani Ram Sharma.
The Commission has now decided to send notices to high courts for non-compliance. Speaking to ET, Chief Information Commissioner Satyananda Mishra said, "not even a single high court has written to us with a compliance report. We will send them notices and again fix a hearing to review this issue." CIC has found this absolutely unacceptable as the date of April 1 for compliance was set after consultation with the high courts.
"The high courts had been given sufficient time for compliance. I had fixed the date for April 1 after consulting with them. Left to me, I would not have given them three months and set a date before April. But they said that this is a long exercise and they needed more time to get their websites in order."
As per Section 4 (1) (b) of the transparency legislation, every government department and autonomous body is required to disclose this information voluntarily on its official website and put this in the public domain.
While passing the order, Mishra had specifically named high courts of Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Allahabad, Madras, Punjab & Haryana and Sikkim. Mishra had given the example of Guwahati high court website and had asked all the high courts to follow that pattern.
CIC had also directed the courts to get their other rules, especially on RTI fee, in conformity with the central Act. Mishra had asked Allahabad high court, which has been levying a very high fee of 500 per application and an additional 500 per question, to follow Supreme Court's pattern of a standard fee of 10. There has been no response by the judiciary on that either.