The Supreme Court on Monday gave the Centre and 25 States a month’s time to respond to a writ petition seeking a direction to establish Right to Information (RTI) web portals across all States to enable citizens, especially those living abroad, to file RTI applications online.
A Bench led by Justice N.V. Ramana said no further adjournment would be granted to the government to reply on the petition filed by the Pravasi Legal Cell.
In August, the NGO, represented by senior advocate Sanjay Hegde, had said that none of the States, except Delhi and Maharashtra, has set up RTI portals.
The Central government established an online RTI portal whereby any Indian citizen, including Non-Resident Indians (NRIs), can apply for information under the RTI Act with the desired Ministry or Department under the Central government. An applicant can also pay the requisite fee through online payment in this portal and submit the RTI application, the petition said.
The Centre had also requested, via a letter dated December 13, 2013, the various State governments to explore the feasibility of implementing online RTI portals. It had even offered to provide technical support for this purpose through the National Informatics Centre (NIC) to the States.
“However, only the States of Maharashtra and Delhi have established their respective online portals for obtaining information from the departments of their respective governments,” the petition pointed out.
It said that a person seeking information under the RTI Act of 2005 from any State department is compelled to make a physical application. This has become difficult for NRIs.
“The provision of an online web portal will help the Indian citizens, including the Non-Resident Indians by speedy dissemination of information requested, which in turn would only help in achieving the aim of the RTI laws of bringing transparency in administration,” the petition said.
It reminded the court of Section 7(1) of the 2005 Act, which provides for disclosure of information if it concerns the life or liberty of a person. Such dissemination of the information would be easier sought through an online application, the petition said.