NEW DELHI: Keeping in mind the ongoing lockdown, the Central Information Commission has directed all public authorities in the country to create dedicated unique e-mail IDs of Public Information Officers so that citizens can file urgent e-RTI applications without depending on the resumption of postal services.
The CIC has asked the Department Of Personnel and Training (DOPT) and National Informatics Centre (NIC) to provide an online platform for citizens who were struggling to file RTI applications under the ‘Life or Liberty’ provision.
Currently, the citizens filed RTI applications manually through pen paper and posting them and then wait for 30 days as per the usual RTI procedures even in matters of grave emergencies. This wait period is now extended due to the ongoing lockdown.The order was passed following a complaint made by a former DU student and advocate Mohit Kumar Gupta.
“The Commission observed that the concern raised a much larger issue and access to information must be a priority. All the public authorities need to understand the essence of life and liberty. Due to the ongoing pandemic in the country and the prevalent lockdown, the Commission finds it appropriate to highlight the issue of Section 7 (1) implementation by citizens more so, when postal receipt of RTI applications are minimal, in such situations all public authorities should encourage RTI applications through e-mail in case of life and liberty matter,” read the order passed by CIC. As per the order, Central Public Information Officers (CPIOs ) of all government organisations will create a unique e-mail ID and disclose it on their respective website. A method of online acceptance of RTI fees will also be developed.CIC has further said the procedure can be explored in the normal RTI portal.
“The CIC has asked the secretary of DoPT to submit the action taken report to the Commission within seven days from the date of withdrawal of lockdown.”“The CIC order is historic. However, I expect more awareness to be imparted about extent and limitations regarding bonafide use of the provision of ‘Life or Liberty,” said Gupta.
What is ‘Life and Liberty’ provision?
The ‘Life and Liberty’ provisions comes under Section 7, Right to Information Act 2005. It says that when the information sought relates to life or liberty of a person, then the Public Information Officer of the public authority concerned should provide the information within 48 hours of the receipt of the Right to Information Act applications