Applications under Right to Information Act 2005 (RTI) can now be filed through www.rtionline.gov.in reports Times of India. We checked, and this website currently accepts RTI applications only for the Department of Personnel & Training (DoPT), apart from first appeals in case sufficient information has not been received so far. Speaking to Times of India, DoPT official said that this facility will be extended to other ministries in New Delhi by the end of this month.

The real value of the RTI portal, in our opinion, is that citizens don’t have to figure out who it is that they are going to file the RTI application with. While all ministries and departments have their lists, our experience in filing RTI’s so far has been that often it is difficult to figure out who exactly the application has to be filed with, and RTI requests get transferred from person to person within the department, leading to a delay in the responses. Secondly, there have been instances of our RTI being returned because the person to whom it was addressed was no longer with the department – often ministries/departments don’t update the information about their public information officers.

rti-online

A few things to note about the RTI filing online:

– Registration: The website supports registration, but it isn’t mandatory

– Payment: As is the norm for RTI applications, Rs. 10 is being charged as fee for filing. However,  payments can be made only through State Bank of India or associated bank’s internet banking services or using debit or credit cards.

– Character limits? Strangely enough, the application form has been limited to 500 characters only. For longer forms, citizens will have to upload a PDF attachment in the “Supporting Document” column.

– Reference Number & Tracking: On submitting the application on the website, an unique registration number will be issued for future reference, which can be used to check the status of the RTI application. The application will then be electronically transmitted to the nodal officer of DoPT who will then forward it electronically to the concerned Central Public Information Officer. Note that every General Post Office (GPO) has an RTI desk

– SMS Alerts: Applicants will also get intimated about any additional charges through email. On registering their mobile numbers, applicants can also get SMS alerts.

– Limited Ministries: In the first phase, only applications for the “main ministries/departments of Central Govt”, located at New Delhi can be filed. RTI applications/first appeals cannot be filed for other Public authorities under Central/State Govt. through this portal, and citizens will have to file those with the GPO.