14 October 2019
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Centre and state governments to furnish their response, within two weeks, on a PIL demanding web portal for online submission of RTI applications.
Senior advocate Sanjay Hegde, on behalf of the petitioner Pravasi Legal Cell, told a bench headed by Justice N.V. Ramana that only 10 states have filed their response as of now.
The court had, on August 26, issued notices to the Centre and states on a PIL filed by the cell on the issue and gave two weeks for filing a rejoinder. The petitioner has moved the court seeking a facility to enable people to electronically file applications to access information they require, telling the court that RTI Act was a "powerful tool" and it can meet its true objective following a timely response on citizens' applications.
The plea said for NRIs, the current system of physical RTI applications is inconvenient, costly and causes long delays in accessing information under the Act, which actually defeats the letter and spirit of the legislation. The Centre has operationalized an online RTI portal where any Indian citizen, including NRIs, can apply for information under the RTI Act with ministry or department concerned.
In 2013, the Centre had asked state governments to examine the feasibility of implementing online RTI but only Maharashtra and Delhi have made it online so far. It is learnt that RTI applications are continued to file through hand-written applications in many states.
The petitioner contended it had approached the authorities concerned in March this year but it could not get any response. The petition said: "A person seeking information under RTI Act from any department of the state government, at present has to make a physical application and cannot do so through any electronic means."