How many bullock cart tracks are in Delhi? How many trees in the capital are green and how many are dead? How many cups of tea are consumed by the police personnel? These are just some of the frivolous and "unreasonable" queries asked of the Delhi Police through what is clearly a misuse of the RTI (Right to Information) Act.
The Delhi Police RTI Cell, established in 2005, has received 152,600 applications over the past five years. In 2014, till September, the number was 15,803. In the previous year, over 30,000 applications were received by the force, according to official data accessed by IANS.
Interestingly, most of the applications are "unreasonable" and "illogical" and some downright ridiculous, officials working in the cell said.
"This is really a very good tool to fetch information which is beneficial for an individual or society. But many are misusing it. Some are frequent RTI applicants and they often ask questions that are neither related to our department nor pertaining to other departments," an officer associated with the Delhi Police RTI Cell told IANS on condition of anonymity.
In one instance, an applicant sought information on the number of cups of tea consumed by policemen in a particular district. "Such information cannot be accessed," he said. Another application sought information on the number of bullock carts in Delhi and their travel paths.
Apart from English and Hindi, applications in Marathi and Bengali were also received this year.
The Right to Information Act was enacted in 2002 for citizens to request information from a public authority - for a fee of Rs.10. Replies have to be expedited or filed within 30 days.
The Delhi Police RTI Cell has 12 staffers for compiling the applications and sending them to the unit of the police concerned. The unit is headed by a Deputy Commissioner of Police and operates from the Police Headquarters in central Delhi.
Applications seeking the First Information Report on the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi and the caste and religion-wise composition of the police personnel have also been received.
Besides, the status of a case being investigated and matters related to transfers and postings are sought by people. Sometimes service officials also file an RTI application seeking the reason for not getting an off day from the office.
A total of 44,930 applications were received in 2010, 34,384 in 2011 and 27,301 in 2012, the data said.