Sunday, February 5, 2023

Right To Information: Supreme Court soon to have an online portal for people to access information

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The Supreme Court has decided to have an online Right To Information (RTI) portal to make it more convenient for people to access information about the top court, which being a public authority should also be under the transparency law.

A bench headed by Justice Dhananjaya Yashwant Chandrachud told that the court is looking forward to the ongoing work to set up the RTI portal while hearing a public information litigation (PIL),which sought a mechanism to file RTI applications online.

Currently, the RTI applications with respect to the Supreme Court have to be filed through post.

Bench of Justice Chandrachud, which also consisted of Justice Hima Kohli said that “We are working on it (the portal). This is almost done.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan who had appeared for two law students praying that an online RTI portal be set up for the apex court since as it is a public authority under the RTI law was told about the same by Justice Kohli.

As soon as Bhushan started his submissions, Justice Chandrachud said that the project is already underway. HE also gave some tentative time of four or six weeks.

Justice Chandrachud mentioned that the portal is almost ready. He added that he too is in the e-committee, this can also be emulated by the high courts,

Justice Chandrachud who also is the chairman of the e-committee, which is working towards adoption of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) by the judicial system in India.

Justice Chandrachud believes that the prime objectives of the e-committee is to automate processes, making it easy for the stakeholders to access information.

The petition filed was filed Akriti Agarwal and Lakshya Purohit who are law students and pointed out that although the e-committee has provided an efficient mechanism for e-filing of petitions bot the same when it comes to e-filing of RTI applications.

The plea puts emphasis on emphasis thon the National Informatics Centre which is responsible for assisting public authorities over digitisation of citizen-centric services, which has held hand of the e -committee towards making justice dispensation system cost-effective and easily accessible.

The Central Government is for long running its online RTI portal ( successfully for all central ministries and departments, the petition said that an Apex institution like Supreme Court has no such portal.

The petition also raises concern over the fact that Supreme Court has not been able to get this done even after the enactment of the 2005 RTI Act despite being defined as a “public authority” under Section 2(h) of the Act.

The petition gave a example

a 2019 Supreme Court order in Pravasi Legal Cell Vs Union of India & Ors, in which the court had issued notice to the Centre and states on a plea to establish RTI web portals to enable citizens, especially those living abroad, to file RTI applications online.

As a result, the petition argued that the e-committee is under a legal obligation to provide such a portal for the Supreme Court too to protect the citizens fundamental right to know and access to justice. It added that the portal would also assist in avoiding the impact on the environment by bringing down paper usage considerably.

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