Supreme Court issues Notices to High Courts and Centre for non-implementing online RTI facility
On 13 January 2021, the Supreme Court of India (SC) has issued Notices to all the twenty-five High Courts in India for not providing an online Right to Information (RTI) facility A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed by KC Jain (petitioner) who is an Agra-based lawyer and an RTI- Activist. The Notice was issued by SC while taking cognizance of a PIL wherein the SC showed concern that online RTI Facility has still not been provided even after 15 years of introduction of the Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI Act).
The SC bench comprising of Justices Nageshwara Rao, Indu Malhotra, and Vineet Saran after hearing a writ petition issued notices to all the High Courts (HC) and also notice was issued to the Central Government for seeking its response in the matter.
The petitioner stated in the PIL that anyone seeking any information under the RTI Act from any HC or any other Court has to make a physical application at present and obtain a postal order or bank draft to pay the requisite fee.
It was further added by the petitioner that Section 6(1) of the RTI Act enables a person to make a request for information in writing or "through electronic means".
He further stated, "The establishment of RTI portals by the High Courts and their Subordinate Courts will bring a sea change in the RTI regime, as the use of technology would be convenient, economic, speedy and transparent, which would take the transparency law to next level."
The Central Government established an online RTI portal for any Indian citizen including NRIs to seek information under the RTI Act with the desired Ministry or Department. However, most HCs in India are yet to have their RTI portals and the RTI facility is still not available online.
The next hearing is scheduled to take place on 1 March 2021.