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Defying RTI, 25 public authorities fail to submit annual returns to Maharashtra SIC

The RTI law mandates that every public authority i.e. government offices has to send its annual report to the SIC.

Written by Partha Sarathi Biswas | Pune |
October 17, 2016 12:07:21 am

AS MANY as 25 public authorities have failed to submit their annual returns with the State Information Commission (SIC) for the year 2015, in defiance of the Right to Information (RTI) Act. This omission assumes significance as there was no such dereliction of duty by public authorities last year.

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The RTI law mandates that every public authority i.e. government offices has to send its annual report to the SIC to help the latter in preparing the Annual Report of the state. The report is supposed to contain the number of applications received by the public authority, the number of applications which went for first appeal and the number of applications challenged by the Information Commission. These figures help in deciding the state of awareness and implementation of the RTI Act in the state.

The 10th Annual Report of the SIC reveals that in 2015, as many as 8,68,818 RTI applications were received — the highest ever since the implementation of the RTI Act. Though this indicates renewed interest in the Act by the general public, the response from public authorities leaves much to be desired.

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Of the 25 authorities which have not filed their annual returns, eight are various departments and commissionerates while 17 are corporations. The Transport Department under the Home Department, the Employment Guarantee Scheme Department, Drinking Water and Sanitation Department and the Minorities Welfare Department have failed to provide their annual reports to the SIC. Among the state-run corporations, CIDCO, the Punyasholk Ahilyadevi Sheli Mendi Development Corporation (corporation for the development of goat and sheep rearing), the Fisheries Development Corporation and all seven corporations run by the social justice and equality department have failed to file their annual reports.

RTI activist Vijay Kumbhar said the failure of the public authorities to submit their annual reports is a clear violation of the privilege of the state legislature. “However, the Commission, other than taking note of the non-submission, has not taken any action against them. The report is an eyewash and it does not show the real sorry state of affairs about RTI in the state,” he said.

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