THE Central Information Commission (CIC) on April 22 asked the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), a nodal department for the implementation of the Right to Information Act, 2005, to evolve a system after coordinating with the Director-General of the National Informatics Centre (NIC) for taking immediate steps towards providing a platform to citizens to file RTI applications that pertains to the life or liberty of a person, so that Section 7(1) of the RTI Act can be implemented.
Section 7(1) reads as follows:
“(1) Subject to the proviso to sub‑ section (2) of section 5 or the proviso to sub- section (3) of section 6, the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be on receipt of a request under section 6 shall, as expeditiously as possible, and in any case within thirty days of the receipt of the request, either provide the information on payment of such fee as may be prescribed or reject the request for any of the reasons specified in sections 8 and 9:
Provided that where the information sought for concerns the life or liberty of a person, the same shall be provided within forty‑eight hours of the receipt of the request.”
CIC was hearing a complaint filed by one Mohit Kumar Gupta drawing the attention of the Commission towards the gap in the RTI portal managed by the NIC and under the supervision of DoPT in which provision for filing RTI application under section 7(1) of the RTI Act was not available.
Taking note of the ongoing pandemic of coronavirus in the country and the prevalent lockdown, the Information Commissioner Vanaja N. Sarna also directed that all public authorities should encourage RTI applications through e-mail in case of life and liberty matter. Further, she ordered that a unique e-mail id can be created by the Central Public Information Officers (CPIOs) in this regard and reflected in their respective website. She added, a method of online acceptance of RTI fees also has to be thought of in this regard.
“In so far as other normal RTIs are concerned the RTI portal can be used. The Deputy Registrar is directed to circulate this order widely to the public authorities related to the Registry”, said the Information Commissioner.
Before the CIC, the RTI applicant explained that the present information sought was related to the arbitrary rejection of admission of 16 girls of Daulat Ram College of the Delhi University. He further submitted that he had filed a representation to DoPT on June 21, 2017 followed by a reminder dated July 28, 2017.
Furthermore, he submitted that the DoPT had provided a reply on August 31, 2017, stating that the matter has been examined and NIC has been requested to place the provisions of Section 7(1) of the RTI Act for providing information related to life or liberty of a person within forty-eight hours of the receipt of the request as a directive for CPIOs of Public authorities in the User Manual of the CPIO module of RTI online portal. The applicant submitted that till date no further action has been taken by NIC.