Report Highlights Lack of Gender Diversity in Information Commissions

A recent report has shed light on the glaring lack of gender diversity in Information Commissions across India, revealing that only 5% of them have been led by women since the enactment of the Right to Information Act in 2005. Additionally, none of the commissions currently have a female at the helm.

Key Points

  • Gender Disparity: The report underscores a significant gender imbalance, with merely 9% of all information commissioners nationwide being women.
  • Notably, 12 Information Commissions, constituting approximately 41%, have never had a female commissioner.
  • Background of Commissioners: Of the approximately 465 commissioners examined, the majority (58%) were retired government officials.
  • Only 14% had a legal background, including lawyers or former judges. Commissioners with backgrounds in journalism, academia, and social activism represented smaller percentages.
  • Low Rate of Disposal: The Central Information Commission (CIC) and various State Information Commissions (SICs) displayed a high rate of returned appeals or complaints, raising concerns about efficiency.
  • Transparency Concerns: The report highlights the lack of transparency in appointments and operations of Information Commissions
  • Many Commissions operate with vacancies, including leadership positions, due to delays in government appointments.
  • Some SICs, such as those in Jharkhand, Telangana, and Tripura, are entirely non-functional due to the absence of new appointments.
  • Opacity in Proceedings: Most Information Commissions lack transparency in their proceedings, with only a few allowing public attendance.
  • The absence of clear guidelines on open hearings and restrictions on attendance raise questions about accountability and public access to justice.