The Delhi government has warned officials of strict action for “inappropriate handling” of online RTI applications, after it received several complaints about departments not responding to pleas seeking information. The government has asked the heads of all departments and autonomous bodies to visit the onlne RTI portal on daily basis, preferably as the first task of the day, to avoid any delay in replying to applications and appeals filed by citizens. The move comes after Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, his deputy Manish Sisodia received several complaints that departments were not responding to online RTI applications.
In July this year, Kejriwal had launched e-RTI portal and said the AAP government would put all relevant information online to ensure transparency in its functioning. An official said that the Administrative Department had written to principal secretaries, secretaries, heads of autonomous bodies and officers concerned, asking them to monitor such applications regularly. “Any delay in responding/handling of RTI applications can make concerned PIOs (public information officers) liable for penalty and disciplinary action as mandated under Section 20 of the RTI Act, 2005. “It may also be noted clearly that departmental action/disciplinary proceedings can also be initiated against the nodal officers under normal service-rules in case of inappropriately handling of online applications,” the department said in the written communication.
The e-RTI portal, designed by the National Informatics Centre (NIC), enables citizens to file RTI applications pertaining to 172 departments of the Delhi government. While launching the portal, the chief minister had said people would not need to visit government offices to file RTI applications, adding that there was a need to take the Right to Information to the next level. “We will try to put all information pertaining to the government’s work in the public domain, which affects people’s life and helps in bettering transparency,” Kejriwal had said.