Over 66,000 RTI queries awaiting clearance in Karnataka

MYSURU: State information commissioner KM Chandregowda on Friday disposed of as many as 16 Right To Information (RTI) applications – a figure that was set in stark relief when he announced that there were more than 66,000 RTI applications pending clearance across the state. Bengaluru has the highest number of pending RTI queries.
As many as 1,88,386 RTI queries have been made since the implementation of the Act in the state in 2005. Of these 1,21,772 are yet to be cleared. In Mysuru, of the 4,174 RTI applications submitted, 3,543 have been disposed of, said Chandregowda on Friday.
The senior bureaucrat was on Mysuru on Friday to clear a few RTI queries that were pending for more than a year. As many as 29 RTI applicants had complained to the state information commissioner about the protracted delay in clearing their files. Chandregowda on Friday issued notices to officials of various departments for failing to furnish information sought by the applicants, and scheduled a date to hear a few cases. On Friday, he heard petitions that had been submitted earlier, while 14 of them were adjourned to a later date.
One of the institutions charged with withholding information is Sharada Vilas College, which has received grants from the government to the tune of Rs 100 crore. An advocate, Bangar Nayak had sought information pertaining to the college’s roster system, and a breakdown of the number of students admitted under all the categories. “Sharada Vilas College is a government-aided institution. Even the salaries of teachers are paid by the government, and so the college is covered by RTI,” said Nayak.
He pointed to the case of a student from a backward category being denied admission at the college despite scoring 68% in II PUC. “The college has not provided information on category-wise admission, or the fees levied by the management. They have also not furnished details on how they have spent the grants,” Nayak added.
On the other hand, another advocate had sought information on an inspection conducted by an official of a corner site in Krishnamurthypuram. The advocate said that Mysuru Urban Development Authority (Muda) had claimed not to be in possession of the records. However, Chandregowda directed Muda officials to furnish the required information before Friday evening.
Chandregowda said that a few officials deliberately delayed providing information to RTI applicants, while in a few cases, records could not be found. “We have been receiving a lot of RTI applications from across Karnataka, and we have been receiving many petitions in Bengaluru city,” he added.
Chandrgowda said that a few departments had not followed rules while appointing public information officers. “I have directed these departments to address this problem,” he said.

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