In a letter addressed to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis former Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi has expressed his concern about the weakening of RTI act. He said that Maharashtra has the dubious distinction of having the largest number of RTI users murdered. Nearly half the RTI applications have been filed since most government departments violate the transparency law in fulfilling their duties under Section 4 of the act. Apart from this are many decisions of all adjudicating bodies which do not decide RTI matters as per the Statute passed by the parliament.
He mentioned, “The purpose of this communication is to draw your attention to the fact that the Maharashtra Information Commission is being pushed into becoming dysfunctional and irrelevant due to carelessness by the government. The RTI Act envisages a maximum number of eleven information commissioners in a State. Our State had eight Information Commissioners, who were barely able to cope with the working load of pending applications. Now we have only five commissioners.”
“Already 42000 cases are pending with the State Commission and every year 40000 fresh cases are being added. Across the nation most commissioners dispose about 3000 cases per year. The Maharashtra Commissioners dispose about 4500 cases per year. Despite this, in some of the benches the pendency is over two years. Unless commissions dispose cases in less than three months, they will stop being able to service the average citizen. If vacancies are continued they will become like our courts, which have rendered dysfunctional because of vacancies,” he added.
He urged the CM take to appoint atleast five more information commissioners who have a predilection for transparency and an empathy and understanding of the RTI Act.