The Right to Information (RTI) disposal rate remained unaffected by the coronavirus pandemic and during certain intervals of time, the disposal rate was even higher than usual, Union Minister Jitendra Singh said on Thursday.
The Minister was hitting back at some “unsubstantiated observations” made by certain senior leaders of the Congress and other parties alleging that the Covid-19 pandemic had left various Commissions in Central government, including the Central Information Commission (CIC), inactive.
Singh said the Commission disposed of 1,785 cases in June this year against 1,289 cases in June 2019, which in other words indicates that the disposal rate was in fact significantly higher during this period, despite the constraints of Covid-19 pandemic.
After a review of the functioning of CIC with Chief Information Commissioner Bimal Julka, the Minister said the functioning of the Commission had not been interrupted even for a single day during the entire course of the pandemic.
In fact, he said, it goes to the credit of the Commission and its functionaries that in the midst of the pandemic on May 15 this year, the CIC started entertaining, hearing and disposing of RTIs from the newly created Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, through virtual means.
Citing figures compiled by the Commission, Singh said, e-office was extended to the home computers of officers and intensive use of technological tools was implemented for disposal of cases.
Julka informed the Minister that various steps taken to facilitate the CIC hearing during the lockdown and partial lockdown included video conferencing, audio conferencing, facilitation of return submission, uploading of the contact details of Deputy Registrars on the website, issue of notices by e-post wherever required, online registration and scrutiny of fresh cases on the same day.
Not only this, CIC informed Singh that the Commission had also effectively continued its interactive and outreach activities.
These, he said, included video conference with civil society representatives and video conferencing with members of National Federation of Information Commissions in India (NFICI).