Online portal for RTI: SC gives 4 more weeks to govt

Supreme Court of India. (PTI photo)

The Supreme Court on Monday granted four more weeks to Centre and the States to respond to a plea for establishing an online portal to ensure immediate filing of the RTI applications by citizens.

"No further adjournment would be granted," a bench of Justices N V Ramana, Sanjiv Khanna and Krishna Murari said, while taking up the PIL by NGO 'Pravasi Legal Cell'.

The court said we had already given sufficient time to the Union government and the States to file their response. Senior advocate Sanjay Hegde submitted some of the states have filed 'Vakalatnama' but there has been no response from any of them.

The top court had on August 26 issued notice and admitted the plea for consideration.

Except the Centre and Maharashtra government, no other states entertained the RTI applications online, the petitioner contended.

The petitioner pointed out that the present system of submitting RTI applications and the corresponding reply from the concerned information officer in physical form took more time, which in turn reduced the efficiency of the entire RTI mechanism, thus defeating the very purpose of the 2005 legislation.

"It becomes next to impossible for a Non Resident Indians (NRIs) to obtain information under the conventional method of snail mail services which is otherwise a costly affair," their petiton stated.

The Right to Information Act provided a legal mechanism to enforce and implement the citizen’s right to information guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) and Article 21 of the Constitution.

The Union as well as state governments are statutorily bound to make the information easily available for the citizens "in all convenient means possible". On the contrary, the present system violated the fundamental right to information. 

"The e-governance has been proven to be most convenient, efficient and transparent way of governance  throughout the world and a country like India with vast population is not an exemption," it said.

"Both the State and Central Governments have started implementing e-governance for delivering government services. However RTI remains an exception which requires interference from this court," the petitioner added.
 

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