NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has asked the Centre to explore the use of advanced technology for providing information to differently-abled persons under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
Observing that information makes an individual "empowered", the top court said the right to acquire and disseminate information has been regarded as an intrinsic component of freedom of speech and expression.
A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud said such people should have a functional facility to receive the information as permissible under the Right to Information Act.
"We think it appropriate to ask the authorities to explore any kind of advanced technology that has developed in the meantime so that other methods can be introduced," the bench said.
The judgement came on a plea filed by Aseer Jamal who had contended that illiterate persons and the visually impaired persons or persons afflicted by other kinds of disabilities are not in a position to get the information under RTI Act.
He said that certain provisions of the act are not accessible to orthopedically impaired persons, persons below the poverty line and persons who do not have any access to the Internet.
While asking the authorities to look for alternative methods, the apex court asked him to submit a representation to the competent authority for pointing out any other mode available for getting information under the RTI Act.
It noted the submission of Attorney General K K Venugopal that several states provide information in Braille since 2012.
The AG told the bench that every time the authority receives an RTI application seeking information in Braille, it prepares a reply in the printed format and forwards it to the National Institute for the Visually Handicapped where it is converted to Braille.
"In view of the obtaining situation, as has been brought out by the attorney general for India, as presently advised, we are disposed to think that no further direction needs to be issued except granting liberty to the petitioner to submit a representation to the competent authority pointing out any other mode(s) available for getting information under the act.
"If such a representation is submitted, the same shall be dealt not only with sympathy but also with concern and empathy. We say so as differently-abled persons, which include visually impaired persons, should have the functional facility to receive such information as permissible under the act. They should not be deprived of the benefit of such a utility," the bench said.