In the last 9 months, the Election Commission of India (ECI) and the Department of Personnel & Training (DoPT) have been writing to each other about RTI Online. While the ECI wants its name to be removed from the RTI Online portal, the DoPT has other plans. In the midst of this tussle, 100s of RTI applications addressed to the ECI remain unanswered on the RTI Online portal.
Factly had earlier reported on how the ECI is reluctant to be part of RTI Online, the online portal of the Government of India that is used for filing Right to Information (RTI) applications online. It is now known that close to 2000 RTI applications addressed to the ECI remain unanswered on the RTI Online portal. Amidst the ongoing tussle between the government & ECI, the citizen is the ultimate sufferer.
‘Remove our name from the portal: ECI’
In February 2017, the Under Secretary and the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) of the ECI wrote to the DG of the National Informatics Center with a request that the ECI’s name be immediately removed from the RTI Online portal since it was not a part of it.
In response to that letter from the ECI, the Under Secretary in the DoPT said that it is not possible to remove ECI’s name from the portal since it was not an exempted organization (as per sec 24 of the RTI act). Further, he offered training to the nodal officers in ECI in case they face difficulties in using the RTI Online portal.ECI writes one more letter to DoPT in April 2017
The ECI had written one more letter to the DoPT in April 2017 with a similar request, that its name be removed till the ECI approves using RTI Online. He further asked the DoPT to inform all the applicants whose applications are pending on the RTI Online portal to file them in physical form once again.
It has to be noted that the DoPT has not informed even a single applicant whose RTI application is pending with the ECI that the ECI is not accepting applications filed through the online portal. In fact, the DoPT had once again written to the ECI in August 2017 reminding them that a number of applications filed with the ECI are pending and the nodal officer is not forwarding them to the relevant CPIO.
In response to another complaint, the ECI in November 2017 has categorically stated that it is not part of the RTI Online portal and that it is developing its own facility for online applications.The Citizen is the ultimate victim
In this tussle between the ECI & Government, it is the citizen who is ultimately suffering. Both the organizations have done precious little to help the hundreds of applicants who have filed applications on the portal. The ECI could have easily accepted the existing applications while notifying on its portal about it not being a part of RTI Online. The DoPT on the other hand could have informed all the applicants that the ECI is refusing to accept such applications. With their hardened positions, neither is helping the citizen.