Giving RTI info the e-way: SC asks Centre, states to decide

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New Delhi, Nov 3: The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Centre and all the states to take a decision on a plea seeking setting up of a mechanism to provide information under the Right to Information (RTI) Act through "electronic" means.

"It appears the petitioner has filed the representations with the authorities. It seems, as of now, no decision has been taken. We direct the respondents (states and UTs) to take a decision within three weeks," a bench comprising Chief Justice H L Dattu and Justice A K Sikri said.

Disposing of a PIL filed by Madhya Pradesh-based lawyer Rajeev Agrawal in his personal capacity, the bench said the plea be treated as a representation by the states and Union Territories and a decision be taken within three weeks.

The plea, filed through lawyer Amit Kumar, had sought a direction to all the states and the UTs to create "centralised RTI websites for submission of RTI requests" and allow online filing of appeals and payment of fees by using Internet in respect of every public authority of the government under the transparency law.

It had also sought directions to the states and others for constituting "call centre as voice facilitation centre for filing RTI applications and appeals over the phone" on the lines of action taken by Bihar government.

The plea has referred to certain provisions of the RTI Act which provides that a person can make a request "in writing or through electronic means" for getting information from the authorities under the Act.

"The non-implementation of mandatory provisions of the RTI Act is resulting in violation of fundamental rights of the citizens guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India," the plea said.

In most of the states, UTs and State Information Commission, there is no provision of receiving the application through electronic means, it said.

"It is unfortunate that even after nine (9) years of enactment of the RTI Act, the mandate contained in section 6(1) read with section 4 and 26(3)(c) has not yet seen the light of day till date in almost all of the states of India," it said.

PTI

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