The court of Information Commissioner Uday Mahurkar has disposed of 5056 RTI appeals in 2021-22. It is the highest number of appeals disposed of in any one year by a Central Information Commissioner in the 16-year history of CIC set up under RTI law in 2005.
In one of its landmark judgments passed in October last year, Mahurkar has ordered the National Mission for Manuscripts (NMM) to put all the manuscripts it has digitised in the public domain, including the ones that have been privately held.
The National Mission for Manuscripts (NMM) was established in February 2003 by the Ministry of Tourism and Culture. The NMM is mandated to unearth and preserve the vast manuscript wealth of India.
Under its digitisation programme, it has digitised three lakh manuscripts, including many privately held. Of the three lakh digitised manuscripts, it has put 30,000 in the public domain on its website. The court of Information Commissioner Uday Mahurkar ordered the NMM to put all the other digitised manuscripts on its website.
In its October 2021 order, the court of Information Commissioner Uday Mahurkar ordered, “These manuscripts, though belonging to Private Institutes, were digitised by the NMM at the expense of Public Exchequer. Moreover, the Commission also observes that the said manuscripts are national property… (the Commission) directs the NMM to put in public domain the around 3 lakhs manuscripts (according to the respondent) which it has digitised so far within a period of one year from the date of receipt of this order.”
The NMM had opposed the idea of putting manuscripts in the public domain saying, “They have an agreement with the Institutes whose manuscripts they had digitised, according to which the digitised manuscripts can be made public or shared by the NMM only with the permission of the Private Institutes who own the manuscripts.”
In a social media post on April 2, Mahurkar said, “Happy to share my court has disposed 5056 RTI appeals in 2021-22 which is the highest in any 1 year by a Central Information Commissioner in the 16 year history of CIC set up under RTI law in 2005. Thank CIC YK Sinha, fellow commissioners & my team for their support.”
Thanking his office staff led by Dy. Registrar Rakesh Rao, Mahurkar said, “The entire staff of Central Information Commission also needs to be complimented for its stupendous show in disposing 28903 cases in 2021-2022.”
Mahurkar was earlier Senior Deputy Editor with India Today magazine and was appointed Information Commissioner in October 2020. He worked with India Today magazine for over 33 years.
An expert on radical Islamic movements and its impact on society, Mahurkar wrote a biography of revolutionary freedom fighter Veer Savarkar titled “Veer Savarkar: The Man Who Could Have Prevented Partition”. It was published in October last year.