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Supreme Court to soon have RTI portal

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  • Supreme Court to soon have RTI portal

    NEW DELHI The Supreme Court will soon have an online Right To Information (RTI) portal to make it more convenient for people to access information about the top court, which is a public authority under the transparency law.

    On Friday, a bench headed by justice Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud made the disclosure about the ongoing work to set up the RTI portal while hearing a public information litigation (PIL), seeking a mechanism to file RTI applications online. At present, RTI applications with respect to the Supreme Court are to be filed through post.

    “We are working on it (the portal). This is almost done. It’s a very valuable thing,” the bench, which also included justice Hima Kohli, informed advocate Prashant Bhushan.

    Bhushan was appearing for two law students praying that an online RTI portal be set up for the apex court since it is a public authority under the RTI law.

    As soon as Bhushan started his submissions, justice Chandrachud was quick to point out that the project is already underway. “Let us take it up after four or six weeks. The portal is almost ready. Since I’m also there in the e-committee, this can also be emulated by the high courts,” added the judge, positing the matter in November.

    Justice Chandrachud is also the chairman of the e-committee, which works towards adoption of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) by the judicial system in India. One of the prime objectives of the e-committee is to automate processes, easing accessibility of information to its stakeholders.

    The petition filed by law students Akriti Agarwal and Lakshya Purohit pointed out that the e-committee has already provided an efficient mechanism for e-filing of petitions but does not provide the same facility when it comes to e-filing of RTI applications.

    Filed through advocate Neha Rathi, the plea emphasised that the e-committee and the National Informatics Centre, responsible for assisting public authorities over digitisation of citizen-centric services, have a joint responsibility towards citizens to make the justice dispensation system cost-effective and easily accessible.

    While the Union of India has already been running its online RTI portal ( successfully for all central ministries and departments, the petition regretted that the Supreme Court has not created such a portal since the enactment of the 2005 RTI Act despite being defined as a “public authority” under Section 2(h) of the Act.

    The petition cited 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.