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CIC wants paperless info flow under RTI
NEW DELHI: Filing and receiving information under the Right to Information (RTI) Act could soon be a paperless affair. The Central Information Commission (CIC) has proposed ‘e-ministration’ of government departments so that public records are accessible online and can be used to provide information under RTI.
When implemented, this would mean that a person can file an RTI application online. The department’s public information officer will be able to access government records on the internet and send a reply, also online, cutting down on delays and increasing transparency within the system.
At present, CIC is the only agency that receives online appeals under RTI. Bihar took a step in this direction recently by accepting RTI applications on phone.
Though the RTI Act has been in operation for three years, applicants continue to face delays in receiving rudimentary information. A proposal to harmonise the government’s computerisation plan with the RTI roadmap has now been sent to the PMO. Chief information commissioner Wajahat Habibullah said the CIC was already working with the ministries of rural development and panchayati raj to fast-track computerisation of records. "With this, we hope that not only will more information be available on the internet so that people will not have to resort to RTI but also that the information officers can access records faster. Storing of records in our system is atrocious and very often, files are mislaid or destroyed," Habibullah said.
He added that computerised records would translate to "easy access, quick retrieval and dissemination of information to the public".
The stumbling block in this process could be the fee that is required to be paid when an applicant asks for large amounts of information. "We are still exploring options but applicants can send the money through a postal order as use of credit cards or plastic money will require a separate system of checks and balances that we are not ready for," Habibullah said.
While the CIC will be working with central government ministries and departments, state information commissioners will be asked to work in consonance with district and panchayat-level administration for online access to records at the grassroots level.
The RTI watchdog will be meeting state information commissioners in October to discuss the issue further.
CIC wants paperless info flow under RTI-India-The Times of India
- 07-15-2007 #2
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