A study conducted by the Legal System Reforms Project, Azim Premji University, Bangalore has revealed that most High Courts notify RTI rules which frustrate the purpose of the RTI Act. The report titled, “The Implementation of the Right to Information Act, 2005 in Nine High Courts of India - A Comparative Study”, compares the implementation of the Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI) across nine High Courts in India.
Lamenting the current state of judicial compliance with the RTI Act, the report states, “Ten years after the RTI Act came into force, its initial objectives of accountability and transparency of public institutions continues to elude us. The Indian judiciary, while maintaining a rhetoric on government accountability, continues to be opaque and non-compliant with the RTI Act (sic).”
The study compares the High Courts through development of a numerical scale called the Court Transparency Index (CTI) to measure each High court’s compliance with the Act. Upon research, it has found that High Courts “perform poorly in terms of implementing the RTI Act”.
Further, through a practice-based comparative analysis of High Courts, the project also highlights the methods through which the Court subverts requests for information. This includes rejecting applications on procedural grounds such as such as excess fees paid, application not signed and incorrect name in the demand draft. Other reasons for rejections included statements such as, “available in website”, “information not available in form”, “information kept in a sealed envelope”.
Here are the other findings of the study:
High Courts in their judgments generally decide against PIOs of other institutions, and in favour of PIOs of their own Court.