Enthusiastic post graduate students of Pune’s MIT’s School of Government filed online RTI at the Department of Agriculture & Cooperation on 23rd May only to be disappointed as rtionline.gov.in rejected their application citing ‘payment failure’
Besides Indians who reside abroad, now Indians can file Right to Information (RTI) application online through the government’s web portal www.rtionline.gov.in to five public authorities: Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT); Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA); Department of Agriculture and Cooperation; Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries; Department of Consumer Affairs and; Department of Food and Public Distribution.
Pune-based MIT’s School of government, a post-graduate course on politics and governance for potential politicians, where I teach RTI, decided to conduct a practical lesson on filing online application. The DoPT had on 23rd May opened online filing of RTI application for citizens to the above mentioned five departments/ ministries.
The students decided to file RTI online to the Department of Agriculture and Cooperation. As a test application, they decided to request information on the quantity of food grains that went rotten in its various warehouses across the country. The period for which information was sought was 1 January 2012 to 31 December 2012.
We followed the step by step instructions as is mentioned on the portal. After successfully filing the RTI application, twice the transaction of Rs10 via the State Bank of India (SBI) card of one of the students, failed. Students did not give up and much to their delight, the third time, the transaction was successful. The proof came in seconds later through an SMS from SBI which stated: “Transaction of Rs10 made in SBI Credit Card xx7902 at RTI Online on 23 May 13.’’
However, seconds later, it was a disappointment, when despite the Rs10 having been successfully debited from the student’s SBI Card, this message flashed on the portal: “Sorry due to transaction cancellation/ failure your RTI request could not be filed. Please try again.’’ If the web portal had accepted the application, the students would have received a registration number by SMS and through this number, they could have tracked the status of their RTI application.
I contacted Commodore Lokesh Batra, a leading RTI activist from Delhi who relentlessly fought with the government for facilitating online RTI applications for overseas Indians as well as those in the country. Batra states, “…the DoPT has just yesterday (22nd May) launched the online RTI for five public authorities including Department of Agriculture and Co-operation and you have tried it today. Perhaps they would take some time for synchronisation. I think you should try again after a week or so. Otherwise, hundreds of citizens have been filing RTI online and they have met with success.’’
Filing RTI online is certainly a boon for citizens. Even first appeals can be filed online. However, one hopes the experience is smooth sailing, otherwise cynicism sets in. While, we will give it another try, following are the step-by-step instructions provided by the website which we followed in the classroom:
1. On clicking at "Submit Request", the applicant has to fill the required details on the page that will appear.
The fields marked * are mandatory while the others are optional.
2. The text of the application may be written at the prescribed column.
3. At present, the text of an application that can be uploaded at the prescribed column is confined to 500 words only.
4. In case an application contains more than 500 words, it can be uploaded as an attachment, by using column "Supporting document".
5. After filling the first page, the applicant has to click on "Make Payment" to make payment of the prescribed fee.
6. The applicant can pay the prescribed fee through the following modes:
(a) Internet banking through SBI and its associated banks;
(b) Using credit/debit card of Master/Visa.
7. Fee for making an application is as prescribed in the RTI Rules, 2012.
8. After making payment, an application can be submitted.
9. No RTI fee is required to be paid by any citizen who is below poverty line as per RTI Rules, 2012. However, the applicant must attach a copy of the certificate issued by the appropriate government in this regard, along with the application.
10. On submission of an application, a unique registration number would be issued, which may be referred by the applicant for any references in future.
11. The application filed through this Web Portal would reach electronically to the "Nodal Officer" of DoPT, who would transmit the RTI application electronically to the concerned CPIO.
12. In case additional fee is required representing the cost for providing information, the CPIO would intimate the applicant through this portal. This intimation can be seen by the applicant through Status Report or through his/her e-mail alert.
13. For making an appeal to the first Appellate Authority, the applicant has to click at "Submit Appeal" and fill up the page that will appear.
14. The registration number of original application has to be used for reference.
15. As per RTI Act, no fee has to be paid for first appeal.
16. At present, an applicant/the appellant can see the following status :
(i) Application filed on..
(ii) Additional fees, if required..
(iii) Appeal filed on..
(iv) Replied on..
17. The applicant/the appellant should submit his/her mobile number to receive SMS alert.
18. All the requirements for filing an RTI application and first appeal as well as other provisions regarding time limit, exemptions etc., as provided in the RTI Act, 2005 will continue to apply.
Following are the FAQs derived from www.rtionline.gov.in
1. To which Public Authority can I file a request?
An applicant who desires to obtain any information under the RTI Act 2005 can make a request through this RTI Online Portal to only the Central Public Authorities of main
Ministries/Departments located at New Delhi initially. In the first phase, this facility is available to make a request to Department of Personnel and Training only.
2. How do I write my application for seeking the information as per RTI Act 2005?
The text of the application may be written in the prescribed column of the form. At present, the text of the application is confined up to 500 characters only in the prescribed column of the form. In case, the text of an application contains more than 500 characters, it can be uploaded as a PDF attachment in the “Supporting Document” column of the form.
3. How do I make the payment for RTI fee?
After filling the first page, a non-BPL applicant has to click on “Make Payment” button for remittance of the prescribed RTI fee.
The applicant can pay the prescribed RTI fee through the following modes:
(i). Internet banking through SBI and its associated banks.
(ii). Using ATM-cum-Debit card of State Bank of India.It may be noted that no RTI fee is required to be paid by any citizen who is below poverty line, as per RTI Rules, 2012. However, the applicant must attach a copy of the certificate issued by the appropriate government in this regard, along with the application.
4. Do I get any receipt for online filing of RTI application?
On submission of an application, a unique registration number will be issued, which may be referred by the applicant for any future reference. It may be noted that the application filed through this RTI Online Portal will reach electronically to the “Nodal Officer” of the said Ministry/Department and “Not” to the CPIO of the concerned Ministry/Department. The Nodal Officer will transmit the RTI application, either electronically or physically to the concerned CPIO.
5. What will happen to my application if I select a wrong Public Authority in the prescribed form?
In case the RTI application is not meant for the Ministry /Department which has been selected by the applicant, the “Nodal Officer” of the said Ministry/Department will transfer the application electronically to the “Nodal Officer” of the concerned main Ministry/Department located at New Delhi, under section 6(3) of the RTI Act.
6. Will I be informed about the additional fee (if any) is required to pay?
In case additional fee representing the cost is required for providing information, the Nodal Officer will intimate the same, which can be viewed by the applicant through ‘View Status’ option in the RTI Online Portal and an e-mail alert will be sent to the applicant for the same.
For submitting the additional fee online, the applicant needs to use the option ‘View Status’ in the RTI Online Portal and on providing the registration number of the request option for ‘Make Payment’ will provided.
7. How do I file an appeal with First Appellate Authority?
For making an appeal to the first Appellate Authority, the applicant has to select the option “Submit First Appeal” in the RTI Online Portal and fill up the form that will appear.
The registration number of original application may be used for the reference.
The appeal so filed through this RTI Online Portal will also reach electronically to the Nodal Officer of the concerned Ministry/Department and Not to the first Appellate Authority.
The Nodal Officer will transmit the first appeal to the concerned First Appellate Authority (FAA), either electronically or physically.
8. Do I need to make any payment for filing an appeal?
As per RTI Act, no fee has to be paid for first appeal.
9. Do I get any SMS from RTI Online Portal?
Though optional, the mobile number can be provided by the applicant/ appellant in order to receive SMS alerts
The Sensex and the Nifty fell 2% each during the fortnight. The ML Mega-cap Index ended flat,...