Former Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi said that the Right to Information Act was being “strangled” due to the neglect of the state government.
Gandhi has written a letter to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis asking him to fill the vacancies in the Information Commission in the state.
“RTI is slowly being strangled in Maharashtra by not appointing information commissioners. In Maharashtra, there is vacancy of one Chief Information Commissioner and three commissioners. These are not being filled despite repeated reminders,” Gandhi stated in his letter to Fadnavis.
Gandhi said that the pendency at all the commissions was now alarming and it was in turn killing the objective of the Act which was transparency.
Sharing the figures of 31,474 pending cases in four regions, Gandhi said, “Nashik region has 9,931 pending cases, Pune has 8,647 cases, Amravati 8,026 cases and Mumbai (HQ) has 4,870 cases pending. These cases are languishing for the want of information commissioners.”
His letter stated that it was a serious matter and needed immediate attention and claimed that failure to do so would allow the state to “succeed” in making the RTI Act “redundant”.
“It will continue as a haven for rewarding retired bureaucrats and other favourites. It will be an expense account with no benefit to its citizens,” Gandhi wrote.
He said that Maharashtra was one of the first states to enact the law when it came into effect in October, 2005 but the state was now “reeling from the worst levels of pendency in years”.