Among Indian states, Maharashtra has the highest ratio of people using the Right to Information Act to the general voting population of the state. So says a study named 'State of Information Commissions and the Use of RTI Laws in India, a rapid study 3.0' based on annual reports of Information Commissions for the year 2012-2014, with updated figures as provided by them. The study was conducted by the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), an organisation that was closely associated with the drafting of the two RTI laws – Central Act and Jammu and Kashmir Act, that cover all the commissions.
The comparative study pertains only to 12 of the 29 Information Commissions across the country, as the others either did not publish their annual report or did not provide information despite being asked to do so by the NGO.
As per the study, RTI users in Maharashtra constitute about 0.6% of the population (11.2 crore). As a proportion of the electorate – aged 18 and above (8.07 crore) – 0.87% of them are RTI users. "This is the closest that any state in India has come to the 1% desirable benchmark of RTI users during the last 10 years," said Venkatesh Nayak, one of the researchers who compiled the report.
He added, "It is sad that despite 10 years of the Act being around, it has not yet achieved the 1% usage that we hoped it would." The study stated that as a proportion of the electorate – aged 18 years and above – around 0.5 to 0.6% of citizens used the RTI Act in the country.
Compared with other states, Maharashtra also fared better in terms of cost per appeal/complaint. While the Centre and some states had a whopping cost of disposing of appeals/complaints, in Maharashtra the cost stood at Rs1,459 per disposal (see box). The state with most expense, as per the study, was Mizoram. It had spent Rs21 lakh to clear nine appeals.
Former Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi said that while there is no doubt that Maharashtra gets the most number of applications and also does a good job of clearing a significant number of them, it is impossible to gauge where the state stands in terms of RTI performance without getting the figures for UP and others. Moreover, the total number of applications filed would not correspond to the total people who used RTI, as one person could be filing more than one application, Gandhi explained.
The RTI story in Maharashtra
Penalties imposed on Public Information Officers for not giving information
2014– Rs42.37 lakh
Amount recovered – 6.14 lakh
Budget of the state Information Commission- Rs7.06 crore
Expenditure – NA
Assets and liabilities of state information commissioners- not disclosed on website
Women commissioners - 1
Average cost of disposal per appeal and complaint – Rs 1,459 (48,426 appeals/complaints cost Rs 7.03 crore to dispose of)
2013 – 7.51 lakh (2.13 %)
2014 – 7.03 lakh (2.25 %)
Women applicants- NA
Which department received most RTI queries-
Urban Development dept- (30.58%)
Revenue & Forests dept- (22.34%)
Rural Development & Water Conservation dept- (7.52%)
Industry, Energy & Labour dept- (6.01%)
Housing & Construction dept - (5.55%)
Sources : http://www.dnaindia.com/mumbai/report-maharashtra-has-highest-ratio-of-rti-users-to-voting-population-of-the-state-study-says-2102304