The Government of India has today made it possible to file Right To Information (RTI) queries online for all Departments. Earlier this year, Online RTI filing had become a possibility, but its scope was highly limited. When the endeavor was officially launched in April, the portal, www.rtionline.gov.in, allowed RTI filing for Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) only. This restriction was apparently to test the website for functioning efficacy.
Apparently the pilot testing phase is now complete and Indians will now be able to file RTI queries regarding and about all Official Government Departments. So far about 37 Government Ministries and Departments are included within the ambit. The official inauguration of the portal and the confirmation of the services being extended to all Departments will be held at New Delhi today. V Narayanasamy, Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions will launch the portal.
Coincidentally, the DoPT is the nodal department in charge of the RTI implementation and an official from the same confirmed the news, “This facility would be extended to all the Ministries or Departments of Government of India with effect from August 21, 2013,”
Why is this a significant milestone? Though Government had long ago offered the power of RTI to Indian Citizens and NRIs in 2005, there were multiple elemental roadblocks that hindered its implementation. Additionally, due to technical limitations citizens couldn’t file the queries with ease. With all the departments coming into the purview of the Online Filing website, citizens across all the regions can easily file an RTI query without having to physically approach an RTI Center. RTI mandates a response within 30 days and a very nominal fee of Rs. 10 is charged.
Perhaps it is this exact point that may still prove to be bothersome. Online payments are still a bit difficult to comprehend for many Indians, who usually opt for Cash-On-Delivery. Additionally, the ultra-low fees could be a big blow to other portals like RTINation and OnlineRTI who charge Rs. 150 and Rs. 75 respectively, per application. Will Indians opt for the online method now that it has become a lot easier?