About 2000 RTI applications filed through the ‘RTI Online’ portal are waiting for response by the Election Commission of India (ECI). The Central Information Commission (CIC) has now directed the ECI to launch a special drive to dispose these pending applications.
Factly was the first one to report about the ongoing tussle between the Department of Personnel & Training (DoPT) & the ECI about accepting RTI applications online. The CIC in a related case, has now directed the ECI to launch a special drive to dispose the 2000 odd pending applications.
The ‘RTI Online’ portal
The RTI Online portal is a good initiative aimed at reducing the need to file paper based physical RTI applications. The portal was first launched during the previous UPA government. From just 96 public authorities of the Central Government in 2013-14, the portal has now been extended to more than 2100 public authorities (including independent organizations) of the central government. The number of online RTI applications filed has increased from 87831 in 2013-14 to 231688 in 2015-16. In 2015-16, the proportion of RTI applications filed through the online portal reached 24% of all the applications filed with public authorities of the central government. The ECI is still listed as one of the public authorities on the portal.
The ongoing tussle between the ECI & DoPT
As reported by Factly earlier, there is an ongoing tussle between the DoPT & the ECI regarding the use of ‘RTI Online’ for filing online applications with the ECI. Documents reveal that the ECI was earlier prepared to accept the online RTI applications through the portal. Documents also reveal that the officials of ECI had taken training regarding the usage of the portal. The CIC in its latest order highlighted that the ECI has not opened & accessed the close to 2000 applications filed in its name on the portal. The CIC has also observed that the ECI did not take any step to ensure citizens do not file the applications online. Factly had also highlighted earlier that the ECI could have put up a notice on its website about non-acceptance of the applications through the portal.
No deadline for developing its own portal
In response to a complaint filed by Factly, the ECI had earlier maintained that the RTI Online facility was not available in the ECI and the commission was developing its own portal for RTI applications. The ECI mentioned that the development of the online facility for ECI was under process. The CIC in its order also observed that the ECI did not have a deadline to launch its own portal for online RTI applications.
‘Launch a special drive to dispose pending applications’
Observing that close to 2000 RTI applications are left unattended by the ECI, the CIC has now directed that a special drive be taken up to clear all the pending RTI applications. Further, the CIC also directed that a compliance report be submitted about the special drive.