Chennai: RTI activists in the state have demanded that the government introduce online Right to Information (RTI) application filing facility following in the footsteps of the Central and Maharashtra governments. After the Central government’s successful demonstration of its online RTI filing facility, the Maharashtra government launched an online portal last week for filing applications and first appeal for the secretariat departments and the fees for the application can be paid via Internet/debit or credit card.
City-based RTI activist V. Gopalakrishnan appealed to the state government to launch an RTI portal for its secretariat departments and collectorate to help people exercise their right to seek information through the online medium. “The government cannot escape from establishing online facility after the successful demonstration by the Centre and Maharashtra governments. It is feasible and it will ensure greater transparency,” he told DC.
The activist said when the Centre launched the online portal, the application could be filed only for the department of personnel and training. Now, it covers all Union ministries and several other departments, too, he added. He said the online facility will help save a lot of time for the petitioner and the public information officer cannot give a lame excuse of the petition not reaching him/her. “It will also help the petitioner save money. For purchasing a court fee stamp of `10, the petitioner have to pay at least Rs 2 extra to the vendor,” he noted.
Interestingly, the SC had in November last year directed all the states and Union territories to act on a public interest litigation seeking setting up of a mechanism to provide information under the RTI Act through "electronic" means. Advocate and activist N. Viswanathan said the Tamil Nadu government should immediately act on the apex court direction and set up an online facility. “The Centre has offered to share the software developed by NIC (headquarters), New Delhi, to the state government offices if they are willing to establish online facility. The Tamil Nadu government should make use of it,” he said.
When asked whether such an online facility will be established in the state, state chief information commissioner K.S. Sripathi said it is for the government to decide. "The government should decide on it. We are only a second appellate authority," he told DC....