Rejections of RTI Applications

News: The Centre has rejected 4.3% of all Right to Information (RTI) requests in 2019-20, the lowest ever rate, according to the Central Information Commission (CIC)’s annual report. Rejection rates have fallen since the 13.9% rate in 2005-06, and have been steadily trending downwards since the 8.4% spike in 2014-15.

Details:

  • Almost 40% of these rejections did not include any valid reason, as they did not invoke one of the permissible exemption clauses in the Right to Information (RTI) Act. These rejections are classified under the ‘Others’ category in the CIC data.
  • The Finance Ministry alone rejected 40% of its total RTI requests without providing a valid reason under the Act. More than 90% of rejections by the Prime Minister’s Office, the Delhi High Court, the Comptroller and Auditor General, among others fell into the “Others” category.
  • The Home Ministry had the highest rate of rejections, as it rejected 20% of all RTIs received.
  • The Delhi Police and the Army also saw increases in rejection rates.

On which grounds information can be rejected under RTI Act?

Section 8(1) deals with the exemption from disclosure of information:

  • If it is related to the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security, strategic, scientific or economic interests of the State, relation with foreign State or lead to incitement of an offence,
  • Information including commercial confidence, trade secrets or intellectual property,
  • Information, the disclosure of which would endanger the life or physical safety of any person,
  • Information which would impede the process of investigation or prosecution of offenders,
  • Information which relates to personal information the disclosure of which has no relationship to any public activity or interest.
  • Of the permissible grounds for rejection, Section 8(1) was used in around 46% of the cases.

Section 9:

  • It empowers the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer to reject a request for information which involves an infringement of copyright.

Section 24:

  • It exempts information related to security and intelligence organisations except allegations of corruption and human rights violations.
  • Around one in five (20%) permissible rejections coming under this category.