Right to Information (RTI) applicants would be able to register their queries online on the Delhi government’s new portal, which will be launched by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday.
Over a year after it was supposed to be launched, the Delhi government on Sunday announced that its online RTI portal would finally start from Monday. The Aam Aadmi Party government had started training public information officers (PIOs) across departments in early 2016, with the portal expected to be launched last April. In fact, the Administrative Reforms Department of the Delhi government had started work on the project in 2014.
From Monday, as per the Delhi government, the e-RTI portal would start accepting applications for a total of 172 public authorities or government departments in the Capital. The Central government had launched its own online RTI application portal in 2013, which allowed users to file queries, pay application fee and submit requests for appeal. The Central government had urged the States to set up their own online application portals. Maharashtra had followed suit in 2015 with its own RTI portal.
Delhi Minister for Administrative Reforms Kailash Gahlot said the Delhi government’s portal would allow users to file their requests, pay the fee via netbanking, file the first appeal, pay for additional documents online and get email/SMS alerts on the status of the applications. Users would be able to upload supporting documents. The option to pay using debit cards would be added later, said the Minister. The portal would be in both English and Hindi.
“The online RTI portal would be an important tool for the common man to hold government departments accountable,” Mr. Gahlot said. According to the Delhi government’s RTI statistics — which cover the police, municipal corporations and other government departments in the Capital — a total of 2.74 lakh RTI queries had been filed till Sunday evening. Of these, 2.70 lakh applications have been disposed of.
Delhi-based RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal said the State government’s portal would be a “positive step” towards transparency. “In my experience with the Central government’s online portal, I have seen that it is user-friendly for all concerned — users as well as those handling the queries,” said Mr. Agrawal.
Under the RTI Act, Ministries or departments have to file quarterly returns with the Central Information Commission. Mr. Agrawal said the online system makes this an automatic process, where the PIOs don’t have to manually file the returns.