From the new year, people in Maharashtra will be able to seek information under RTI Act online.
Aiming to simplify the process of filing Right to Information (RTI) queries and usher in transparency in the system, the Devendra Fadnavis government has decided to enable people to seek information online, a move welcomed by RTI activists.
It has been decided to roll out RTI online in the state secretariat from January 1, 2015 and across the state in all government offices by April 1.
“When we (the state government) allow (s) people to make RTI queries online, we will be better poised to monitor these queries and ensure that information is provided to the seeker within a specific timeframe. As of now, if a person fails to get an answer within one month, he tries again, and this process goes on and on for certain queries. We want to put an end to this,” Fadnavis said.
“Once we make the entire process of filing RTI queries online and put in place a mechanism to track the status of these queries, we will over a period of time know when an officer from a department is defaulting on queries and not providing the required information. That will help us take necessary action against the erring official,” he added.
Rajesh Aggarwal, Principal Secretary of the state IT department, said that the state began the process of letting people file RTI queries online a year ago, and that the intricacies were being worked out to modify the system to cater to Maharashtra’s needs.
“We have copied the software from NIC Delhi and modified it to Maharashtra’s needs, the language we need it in, etc.
While we were working out on the intricacies of the software, there was also a kind of lag that was being experienced from the past one year when our work wasn’t moving ahead.
“But since the CM (Fadnavis) has given a clear roadmap and said that he wants this project to start by January 1, it will be get done,” he said.
Aggarwal said that the General Administration Department (GAD) will take a lead in initiating the online services, which will then be followed by all departments of the state secretariat.
“RTI queries are mainly handled by the GAD and hence they will be taking the lead to offer services online. It will obviously take some time for people to get used to it and make full use of our online services,” he said.