Is implementation of the Act monitored?
The Central Act places the main responsibility for monitoring on the newly established Central and State Information Commissions. The main monitoring duty is to produce an annual report, to be tabled in Parliament and/or the State Legislature, which review the implementation of the Central Act for the year. The Central Information Commission has advied that they will produce their annual report at the end of each financial year (endig in March).
At a minimum, the reports need to provide statistical information on the applications and appeals received and how they were handled. They also need to include recommendations for reform of the Central Act, including recommendations about specific public authorities, proposed amendments to legislation or government procedures, or general suggestions regarding operationalising the law.
The Information Commission is responsible for producing the report but every Ministry or Department is under a duty to provide the Information Commission with whatever information it needs to produce the report.
The public needs to be active in requesting copies of the Report, reading them, drawing issues to the attenmtion of the media and pushing the Government to address any problems with implementation identified in the Report as an immediate priority.
Right to Information Councils
In certain states, other monitoring mechanisms were established under the right to information laws. For example, the Goa, Maharashtra and Delhi Acts require the establishment of right to information councils to oversee implementation. All of the Councils had to include civil society representatives. The Maharashtra Act had the most comprehensive requirements, requiring State RTI Council to be set up, as well as RTI Councils for every Revenue Division - all of which were supposed to meet regularly to discuss important RTI issues. These bodies were also supposed to carry out awareness raising activities amongst the public.
The Central Act does not require the establishment of an RTI Council, but monitoring bodies such as RTI Councils are a good idea because they institutionalise public involvement in the access regime. The public could consider lobbying the Government to set up such a body via regulations. In any case, civil society needs to be active in educating the public about the law and in pushing the Government to take public and RTI Council recommendations seriously.
Please click on the link to the Central RTI Act to read the detailed provisions contained in the law. Please click on the link to CHRI's State RTI pages to find out more about relevant rules and implementation in your specific State.