CIC faces criticism for poor data keeping

The Central Information Commission has received flak from the government for apparently publishing wrong data on RTI appeals and complaints.

Updated: Mar 03, 2013, 13:46 PM IST

New Delhi: Founded as a transparency and information dissemination watchdog, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has received flak from the government for apparently publishing wrong data on RTI appeals and complaints which were to be used in Parliament questions.

The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) has raised the issue of discrepancy between the figures published by CIC on its website and actual figures of disposal of RTI appeals and complaints received at the Commission.

The DoPT needed these figures from the CIC to furnish response to a Lok Sabha starred question on December 05, 2012 raised by BJP MPs Virender Kashyap and Virendra Kumar on implementation of RTI Act.

Officials handling the matter were left stunned when they found that as per the receipt and disposal shown on the officials’ website of the CIC as on April 2012 a total number of 28,136 appeals and complaints were pending for disposal.

"However, if the appeals and complaints pending with individual registry of all the nine Commissioners and Chief Information Commissioner were summed up the number was 16,319 as on May 31, 2012," the official noted on the file.”

The file notings were furnished in response to an RTI application filed by Hyderabad-based activist CJ Karira.

When contacted over phone, Chief Information Commissioner Satyananda Mishra said he was not aware of the matter but would react after seeing all the related documents on Monday.

"The figures of receipt of appeals and complaints in the Central Information Commission and their disposal have been a matter of debate between this department and the CIC," the official noted.

In the note sheet it was pointed out that regarding the data on total number of RTI requests filed with central public authorities during 2011-12, though the total number of receipt in 2010-11 was 4,17,955, the carry over in 2011-12 was 4,30,425.

"Therefore, the figure 10,85,997 as total applications received during 2011-12 is debatable. These issues have been taken up with CIC a number of times since June this year. However, the issue is yet to be settled with CIC. The reply to parliament questions is based purely on data provided by the CIC," he said.

On the data related to RTI applications received by various ministries, the CIC had explained to DoPT that "correctness and authenticity of reported figures is the responsibility of ministries and public authorities concerned under their control".

It is not for the first time that CIC has come under criticism for poor maintenance of data about it working. The issue of incomplete data on its website had been raised by former Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi in the internal meetings of the commission.

The website of the panel, mandated under the RTI Act to promote and propagate transparency across government offices and other public authorities, is in poor shape with no details of complaints or appeals received by it since May 2012.

The information about pending cases in each registry including that of Chief Information Commissioner was last updated on August 31, 2012.