Citizens can file complaints pertaining to information with the State Information Commission under Section 18 of the act, while they can file appeals either in departments concerned or with the commission under Section 19 of the act.
According to information tabled by the state government in the ongoing budget session of the assembly, Gujarat Information Commission (GIC) received 8,176 appeals and complaints during 2019-20, almost 22% lesser than 2018-19 when it received 10,462 complaints and appeals.
Those who have been using the RTI Act regularly say that this is a disturbing trend, and reflects growing disillusionment among RTI activists regarding the efficacy of the act.
The bulk of appeals and complaints have been in just five departments of the state government — panchayat, rural housing and rural development, revenue, home, education, and roads and buildings. These five departments account for 72% of all complaints and appeals in 2019-20.
“I have myself experienced this several times. We are not provided adequate information either from departments or in appeals. The reduction in number of complaints and appeals reflects a certain level of disenchantment among applicants,” said Mahesh Pandya, trustee, Mahiti Adhikar Gujarat Pahel.