For establishment of online RTI Portal across all the States of India

For establishment of online RTI Portal across all the States of India

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Pravasi Legal Cell PLC started this petition to Government of India

                   For Establishment of Online RTI Portal in all the States of India

The Right to Information Act, 2005 is one of the most powerful legislation enacted in Independent India. This Act has been instrumental in promoting transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority. .It is a known fact that tools such as Right to Information Act,2005 have been enacted to dispel the notion that there is lack of transparency and accountability  in decision making process and also to provide relevant information to public in an expeditious manner.

It is relevant to mention that this RTI Act of 2005 has not achieved the desired objective of providing information in a speedy manner. The Act itself in Section 7(1) states that in cases where information sought for concerns of life or liberty of a person, the related information should be provided within 48 hours of receipt of request.This path breaking Act needs to evolve by making the process of application simple and convenient by utilizing the modern day technology. 

It is probably considering the above scenario that the Central Government and later the State of Maharashtra and Delhi established their respective online portals for obtaining information from the departments of their respective Governments.

A person seeking information under the Right to Information(RTI) Act from any department of the State Governments (barring the two states above mentioned), at present has to make a physical application and cannot do so through any electronic means. Also, the applicant will have to obtain a postal order or demand draft etc. for paying the requisite fess for such an application . Then the applicant is supposed to send the physical application to the concerned department. It is also difficult for the Non Resident Indians (NRI) who is desirous of obtaining information from any department of the State Governments at present since they have to undergo physical application process.

This physical application mechanism not just causes wastage of time and energy of both the applicant and the processing officer and Government department, but also can lead to denial of receipt of an application by a processing officer too.

It is in view of the above that the issue of establishing an online RTI portal gains significance. For Pravasi Legal Cell (PLC), an organization which aims to empower people on the legal front, the issue of making RTI process simple and accessible is of utmost importance. This issue was also brought to the attention of PLC by NRIs and NRI organizations that were facing difficulty in seeking information under RTI due to absence of Online RTI portal in states excluding State of Maharashtra and Delhi. It was a unanimous view of all concerned, that the establishment of online RTI portals across the states will be a welcome step towards furthering e-governance, accountability and transparency. It will also make the entire process of seeking information and appealing against the decisions of the Public Authorities much easier and convenient. This will motivate more people to use the RTI Act to seek information, leading to a more accountable and transparent governance.   

As a result of which the organisation recently filed a Writ Petition titled as Pravasi Legal Cell v. Union of India &Ors. (W.P.(Civil) No. 18483 of 2019 )in the nature of a Public Interest Litigation(PIL ) before the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India, for directing all the states to establish online RTI portals to enable citizens to file  online applications  for information from any departments of the State Governments under the Right to Information Act, 2005.

The Hon’ble Apex court was pleased to issue notice in the above matter on 26.08.2019.It is noteworthy to mention that in the said pending PIL, as on date 13 states have filed their responses. The State of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Bihar, West Bengal, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Meghalaya and Jharkhand have affirmed in their counter affidavits that steps have been initiated for the establishment of online RTI portals. The State of Nagaland has stated that a portal is already in place for filing RTI’s online. 

The impact of the PIL is apparent from the fact that the State of Arunachal Pradesh had to undertake that it would establish a portal for online RTI filing.

The States that have not responded to the PIL will also be expected to file their replies without delay.

We as an organization felt that a petition on will provide an opportunity to all the RTI organizations and stakeholders to show their strength to the Government.

We request all the members and well wishers of all the RTI organizations, and to the rest of the public at large to support this petition which aims to speed up the process of establishment of online RTI portal in all the States.


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