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RTI replies to be available online now; Narendra Modi surprises Sonia Gandhi

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Modi govt to put all RTI replies online
New Delhi, Oct 23: Prime Minister Narendra Modi might have surprised Congress President Sonia Gandhi by taking UPA scheme to another level. While critics were claiming that Modi government might dilute Right to Information (RTI) Act, it has done just the reverse.

Right to Information (RTI) Act, which was launched by UPA government, has been strengthened by Modi government at the centre. According to sources, all replies by ministries, given under RTI Act, will be posted online. All information will be available for access to all and not just to persons who file the RTIs seeking information.

All information related to a query under RTI will be posted online from Nov 2014. Earlier it was only the person, who filed RTI application seeking replies from a ministry or a government department, got the reply and that too mostly via post.

According to an official statement issued by Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), replies to queries will be put up on ministries' website and the process is most likely to begin from Oct 31, 2014.

Satyanand Mishra, former Chief Information Commissioner, has been quoted as saying, "It is a very good and welcome step. It will not only improve transparency but also reduce workload of government officials as it will help eliminating possibility of repeated RTI queries on the same issue."

Continuing his statement, Mr Mishra also added, "As far as person whose RTI reply is put online, someone seeking transparency in form of a RTI plea should not have any problem is government shows the same transparency and makes the reply to him public."

Here it can be recalled that Sonia Gandhi's UPA too had introduced similar scheme and released instructions which were supposed to begin from April 2013. However, UPA's move could never be implemented.

What is RTI?

The Right to Information Act (RTI) is an Act of the Parliament of India "to provide for setting out the practical regime of right to information for citizens" and replaces the erstwhile Freedom of information Act, 2002.

The Act applies to all States and Union Territories of India except Jammu and Kashmir. Under the provisions of the Act, any citizen may request information from a "public authority" (a body of Government or "instrumentality of State") which is required to reply expeditiously or within thirty days.

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