‘Frivolous RTIs are sometimes used to hog the limelight ‘

About seventy five per cent of information accessed through Right to Information (RTI) Act is personal in nature, Chief Central Information Commissioner Satyanand Mishra said on Saturday.

Speaking at a seminar on RTI, Mishra said he does not blame the people who file RTIs to settle personal scores as long as it helps check corruption. He, however, said that "the act was brought in public interest and people should utilise it in ways in which it benefits the public at large." RTI's widespread usage is yet to become a reality, he said. "Sometimes, in an attempt to hog the limelight, people also submit frivolous RTI's," added Akshaya Bhai, secretary general of Confederation of NGOs of Rural India.

"There are about 32 thousand cases pending under UP state information commission," said Afzal Ahmad, president of Foundation for People's Right to Information, which organised the seminar. Regarding disposal of cases, Mishra said that the state information commissions should set targets and try to adhere to them.

Akshaya also emphasised that there is a need to promote awareness in rural areas. "Field activists and NGOs should come forward in spreading awareness regarding RTI," added former Indian defence secretary Yogendra Narain. Citing studies, Narain, however, said that the situation in villages is improving.

Mishra also said that the interest shown by the media and civil societies in RTI has dwindled over the years. "The seriousness shown by civil societies and media around 2005, when this act came into being, is missing now. Even RTI activists have forsaken RTI and gone on to push for other demands," he said.

"There is much frustration, especially among the Indian middle class regarding the level of corruption, but there is light as the end of the tunnel as RTI will work like an 'ayurvedic medicine'. Its benefits would be seen in 10-15 years from now," Mishra said.

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