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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Now, all Central ministries to accept online RTI pleas from today

Filing online RTI applications in all central ministries and departments through a common web-based platform will become a reality from Wednesday. At present, this facility is available only for 40 ministries, departments and commissions. 

Now, the government will extend this facility to all central institutions, including ministries, departments and commissions, which are covered under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005. 

"The minister of state for personnel, V Narayanasamy, will formally launch this facility here on Wednesday", said an official. 

The government had launched an exclusive portal, https://rtionline.gov.in, for this purpose earlier this year, initiating this facility only for the questions asked from the ministry of personnel. This facility was subsequently extended to other ministries, including home, health, external affairs and agriculture, President Secretariat, Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) and Vice-President's Office. 

"The portal will now be open to entertain questions under the RTI Act for all the remaining ministries from August 21. The entire website is prepared in such a way that the system would provide online reply to all RTI applications," said the official. 

This portal — developed by NIC — is a facility for Indian citizens to file online RTI applications and first appeals and also to make online payment of RTI fees. 

A department of personnel and training (DoPT) note said, "The prescribed fees can be paid through Internet banking of State Bank of India and its associate banks as well as by credit or debit cards of Visa or Master, through the payment gateway of SBI linked to this site". 

The RTI Act mandates timely response (within 30 days) to citizens' requests for government information. An information-seeker has to pay a fee of Rs 10 for getting the information. 

Giving details of the guidelines for information-seeker, the department said that the text of the application that can be uploaded at the prescribed column (on the website) was limited to 500 words only. "In case, an application exceeds more than 500 words, then it can be uploaded as an attachment," it said. 

If additional fee is required, covering the cost for providing information, the CPIO will intimate the applicant about the same through the portal. The first appeals filed through the website will also reach electronically to the nodal officer of the DoPT who would transmit the appeals to the First Appellate Authority (FAA). 

"Though optional, the mobile number can be provided by the applicant/appellant in order to receive SMS alerts. On submission of an application, a unique registration number will be issued, which may be referred by the applicant for any future reference," said the department's guidelines. 

Under the existing guidelines, no RTI fee is required to be paid by any citizen who is below poverty line as per RTI Rules, 2012.

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