The Maharashtra government may have taken the right step by introducing the online portal (www.rtionline.maharashtra.gov.in.) for filing Right to Information applications but activists are sceptical about whether it will be citizen friendly. According to them, there is a possibility that RTI applications will start piling up as the state government is facing manpower crunch to resolve the queries raised by RTI activists. If large number of applications is filed online then it could result into crash of the website as at present it can’t handle large volume of data.
Again there is a question of the data back up as the government will have to make a provision for it in case if website experiences any glitch. The online mode of application will definitely ease the woes of citizens as they can file RTI from anywhere as they will only require an internet connection. They can also make the payment through online gateway. However, the government will have to iron out the kinks to make the process more citizen friendly. The portal, available in both English and Marathi, informs applicants about the status/progress of their pleas.
Gopal Kumar Singh, RTI activist said, “The Maharashtra government has taken a right step to ease the woes of citizens. They will be sparred of visiting RTI offices for filing their applications. The government should also pass the Whistle Blowers Protection Act as activists have struggled for many years to bring the RTI Act into force.”
Shailesh Gandhi former Chief Central Information Commissioner said, “Initially, citizens had to face several hardships while filing an RTI application manually but now the same can be done online. You can now track the progress of your RTI application. This move is surely going to work well and in my opinion RTI is an important tool for empowerment of citizens.”
On submission of an application, a unique registration number will be issued, via SMS and email, for the applicant’s future reference.
Anil Galgali, RTI activist said, “Firstly, the Public Information Officers (PIO) should be provided training pertaining to what information has to be disclosed and to whom. The officers sitting in those offices scrutinising the RTI applications should possess the right mindset. They must have dedicated willpower to work and respond to the queries on time.”
Abhishek Ranjan, RTI activist said, “The government has taken a right step by introducing the online RTI application. Citizens can easily have access to it anywhere. It was time-consuming first but now information will be easily available with the usage of technology.”
Pushkar Damle, RTI activist said, “I don’t think so it’s going to be that advantageous as to how will they provide the information. How will you ascertain whether PIO is providing correct information to the applicant?”
Ravi Srivastava, State Committee Member of AAP, Maharashtra and RTI activist said, “Of course online RTI process will prove to be a boon for applicants. Every RTI application has to be replied within a time span of 30 days. The online system will remove all the hassles as the data is getting transferred from one server to another.”