New Delhi: People are
seeking answers, even if it means asking the Prime Minister's
Office (PMO) some tough questions. The number of Right to
Information (RTI) applications filed with the office have
increased a whopping 8,402 percent in five years, say officials.
The number of RTI queries with the PMO rose from 48 in 2005 - when
the act came into force - to over 4,000 applications in 2010, say
information officials in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's office.
PMO has received a total of 13,216 applications since October
2005, with the proposed anti-corruption Lokpal Bill attracting the
maximum queries lately. The act empowers every citizen to seek any
information from the government, inspect any government document
and seek certified photocopies of those that have come into force.
"Since the RTI Act was mplemented, the number of RTI queries to
the PMO has risen tremendously. The PMO had received 4,081 queries
last year till December alone, compared to 48 applications filed
in 2005," the PMO's Central Public Information Officer (CPIO)
Sanjukta Ray told IANS.
Despite being a three-member team, most of the RTI pleas have been
"We are a small team with just three people but we managed to
tackle thousands of RTI applications every year. As of now, we are
piled with queries on the Lokpal Bill and applications based on
news reports and current affairs," she said.
According to the act, the public information officer (PIO) should
respond within 30 days of the receipt of an application, failing
which the applicant should make the first appeal to the appellate
authority of the same department.
Ray said they do not have a large number of first appeals.
In 2006, the PMO received and cleared 743 RTI applications out of
which 70 went for first appeal. In 2007, there were 1,621 RTI
applications out of which 127 went for the first appeal, in 2008,
2,286 applications and 276 first appeals, in 2009, 2,766
applications and 435 first appeals, and in 2010, 4,081
applications and 510 first appeals.
Ray also noted that they get a good number of "non-valid"
applications, which should be addressed to other officials.
"For example, a person from Chhattisgarh sent an RTI application
on an issue related to the collector of a particular district and
asked us to help him out to get the information," she said.
About the method of working of her team which comprises her and
two subordinates, Ray said they process the applications and try
to seek information from the departments concerned.
"We take a list of applications which are to be answered in eight
days and check out how much information has been received and if
it's not received, we try to get the information from the
department sought by the applicant."
Apart from the PMO, the department of personnel and training (DoPT)
has processed 14,292 applications in the last five years, a
finding of RTI applicant Lokesh Batra revealed.
"Compared to other public authorities, the DoPT takes a lot of
time to respond. DoPT has 47 central public information officers (CPIO),
while other ministries and departments have only one to look into
the RTI applications," Batra told IANS.
Each CPIO has handled just 276 queries over a span of five years,
When IANS contacted one of the CPIOs and asked the reason for
delays in the processing of RTI applications, he declined to
The external affairs ministry received 3,765 applications in the
last five years. Out of these, the maximum number, 946, were filed
The findings also showed that even though the external affairs
ministry received a lesser number of applications compared to many
other public authorities, there were 652 cases in which the
applicants did not receive information or were not satisfied with
the quality of information received and filed first appeals with
"Although the MEA has a full time CPIO of joint secretary rank, it
is still not efficient in giving out details," Batra claimed.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has received 6,175 RTI applications
from April 2006 to November 2010. The maximum number of
applications (2,019) were filed in 2009-10.
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